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How did ads for Trump’s private club Mar-a-Lago get on Govt websites?

  1. Quilligrapher profile image90
    Quilligrapherposted 4 weeks ago

    “What did the president know about the Mar-a-Lago advertisement that appeared for a time on official government websites? And when did he know it? These questions might sound trivial. They aren’t. The webpage about President Donald Trump’s private club, which had all the features of a marketer-drafted puff piece, is a prime example of corruption, namely the knowing use of government means to enhance the private wealth of the president. And corruption is the classic example of a high crime or misdemeanor under the impeachment clause of the Constitution.”

    Read more…. https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles … hment-file

    There are two points raised in this article that merit serious consideration:
    1.“High crimes and misdemeanors” leading to impeachment under the Constitution are not necessarily illegal activities punishable under criminal statutes.
    2.While no single incident or event may rise to the level of a high crime or misdemeanor, a pattern or accumulation of minor improprieties certainly might.   

    Therefore, I ask this forum: do Americans have a valid right to know  [i]“What did the president know about the Mar-a-Lago advertisement that appeared for a time on official government websites? And when did he know it?”
    http://s2.hubimg.com/u/6919429.jpg

    1. wilderness profile image94
      wildernessposted 4 weeks ago in reply to this

      Those questions are absolutely not trivial.  And need to be investigated, with some heads on the block. There is no excuse for it, especially after what we've seen and heard the last few months.

      As to answering them - I doubt we'll ever know the truth, or at least know when we have the truth.  At best we might find who put them there and when.  Finding out when Trump knew about them is another matter.

      1. Quilligrapher profile image90
        Quilligrapherposted 4 weeks ago in reply to this

        Hey, Wilderness. I was pleased to see your post.

        I suppose you will have to live with those doubts while we both wait to see if more facts are ultimately shared with the public. As for the matter of learning President Trump’s involvement and participation, I can only add that some investigations can manage to reach beyond the obvious actors and to touch others who were not so obvious at the start.

        I hope you enjoy the evening.
        http://s2.hubimg.com/u/6919429.jpg

        1. wilderness profile image94
          wildernessposted 4 weeks ago in reply to this

          Perhaps they can.  And perhaps you have more faith than I do in the veracity of anything that comes out of the city on the Potomac.

    2. GA Anderson profile image87
      GA Andersonposted 4 weeks ago in reply to this

      Hello Quill, I feel like a witness to a historical metamorphosis... first I spotted an actual opinion response, (vs. your typical neutral fact-checking responses), on another thread, and here you are actually originating a thread...

      I am aware that my comment will seem to be a defense of Pres. Trump, (*sigh), but it isn't really, I would offer these same thoughts, regardless of who the charge was leveled against. And by my perception of the article, and your posting of it, it is a charge - an insinuation of wrong-doing.

      The answer to your question is so obvious it seems the question must be a rhetorical one. "Of course we have a right to know" and to agree with Wilderness, "Of course an investigation is warranted."

      I think a more neutral and legitimate question should have proceeded the 'what and when' questions;

      "Did the president know about the post in question - before it hit the news?"

      Then the "what and when" questions wouldn't seem so obviously biased.

      I ask why the neutral "Did he know..." question wasn't the first one asked, instead of the loaded "What and when" questions?

      Of course there may be the guilt of first-hand knowledge under this smoke of insinuation, but to be legitimately tied into an accumulation of acts that meet the author's "High Crimes and Misdemeanors" explanation, I think the "Did he know..." question should be the first question asked. Without it, the article appears as just one more anti-Trump hit piece - even if it does turn out to be  accurate.

      GA

      1. Quilligrapher profile image90
        Quilligrapherposted 4 weeks ago in reply to this

        Hello, Gus. Nice to chat with you again.

        Please allow me to set your opinion about the article aside for a moment so I can underscore an important point. My concerns involve the facts in this article and whether these facts warrant actively pursuing more facts that may ultimately lead to who is responsible. I see that you think further inquiries are justified.

        Adding and answering your new question (Did he…?) before the original two questions (What and when?) does not produce any additional facts. Obviously, the answer reveals the same information as the original two questions thus making it both irrelevant and redundant.

        Getting back to your opinion of the article, let me remind you that I do not place much value on opinions particularly those that are unsupported by verifiable facts. Therefore, I will simply repeat your unsupported claims about leveled charges and insinuations of wrong-doing and compare them with a quote from the article.

        You said, "I would offer these same thoughts, regardless of who the charge was leveled against. And by my perception of the article, and your posting of it, it is a charge - an insinuation of wrong-doing."

        But the article actually states, “Because the subject of impeachment is so serious, let me begin with an important caveat: One post that went unnoticed for several weeks on a State Department website before being pulled down Monday would not on its own be enough to count as a high crime for purposes of impeaching a president."

        So, where, exactly, does this article level charges at anyone??? As the saying goes, you are entitled to your own opinions but not to your own facts. smile

        It’s great to exchange ideas with you, Gus. Be well and keep the faith.
        http://s2.hubimg.com/u/6919429.jpg

        1. GA Anderson profile image87
          GA Andersonposted 4 weeks ago in reply to this

          Hi Quill, An opinion for an opinion piece, (it was an editorial article) - what could be more appropriate. Especially since there were so few pertinent facts to consider.

          Here are the pertinent indisputable facts that I saw in the article;

          An informational and promotional article about the resort Mar-a-lago appeared on a government sponsored website, and, it was placed there by a government employee.

          Pres. Trump owns Mar-a-lago, so the placement of that article violates at least one Federal regulation, and as such, is also an ethics violation.

          Since we don't know who may have suggested the article, the intention of that suggestion, whether the appropriateness of that suggestion was vetted, or whether the offending article was knowingly allowed to remain in place - you, I, and the article's author do agree that a deeper look, that an investigation is warranted.

          But with all those unknowns, here is the context the author used to present his case that the post was a part of a pattern of acts that would qualify as "High Crimes and Misdemeanors;"

          The author wrote:
          "... The webpage about President Donald Trump’s private club, which had all the features of a marketer-drafted puff piece, is a prime example of corruption, namely the knowing use of government means to enhance the private wealth of the president. And corruption is the classic example of a high crime or misdemeanor under the impeachment clause of the Constitution."

          *with all the unknowns, this statement was in the lead paragraph.Yet there are no facts to support it. To the contrary, there is credible speculation that it  may have been an innocent mistake of poor judgement.

          "... To be very clear, it doesn’t matter whether advertising Trump’s for-profit, members-only club using government property is a “crime” under federal law..."  "... using the perks and tools of government to enrich the president personally is an impeachable offense, an offense that would grow out of a pattern of such acts of corruption.
          *Even noting that these quotes are addressing a Constitutional opinion, they are also as clearly using the subject post as an example of such behaviors, and includes the post as part of a pattern - yet there are no known facts to support this.

          Then the author proceeds to compare the post to the easily understood intent of the Conway transgression, with this;
          "... The Mar-a-Lago post is much worse. Conway just used the airwaves and her job title to make an endorsement. The webpage uses the resources of the government itself -- the State Department’s Share America website and the imprimatur of the U.S. embassies’ diplomatic functions -- to promote the club.
          *again, with all the unknowns, where is the support for this statement?

          My original point, and my point now, is that the author constructed his article to cast the most negative possible light on 1) the subject post's originating source, and 2)Pres. Trump and his administration.

          Over half of his article, after establishing the subject post as the example, focuses on his opinion that it is a part of a pattern of actions that do rise to the impeachable level of High Crimes and Misdemeanors.

          His caveat about it being one post, or his lead-off with the "What did he know... and When..." questions do nothing, (for me), to establish his perspective, his opinion, as an unbiased inspection of facts.

          Regarding your view that my thought that a neutral "Did he know..." question would have been a more appropriate first question - would have been redundant...  perhaps your "setting aside" of my opinion missed the potential that as a first question, it would possibly have negated the need for the more negatively connotative "What and When" questions, and the point of my original response entirely.

          GA

          1. wilderness profile image94
            wildernessposted 4 weeks ago in reply to this

            "... To be very clear, it doesn’t matter whether advertising Trump’s for-profit, members-only club using government property is a “crime” under federal law..."  "... using the perks and tools of government to enrich the president personally is an impeachable offense, an offense that would grow out of a pattern of such acts of corruption.
            *Even noting that these quotes are addressing a Constitutional opinion, they are also as clearly using the subject post as an example of such behaviors, and includes the post as part of a pattern - yet there are no known facts to support this."

            Might I add that not only is there no known pattern, the author of the constitutional opinion assumes, again without any evidence whatsoever, that Donald Trump knew and supported the article. This is seen in the discussion that he can be impeached for certain activities - if those activities were conducted by others, without Trump's knowledge or aid, then he can hardly be impeached for them, and the perpetrator of the "crime" can't be impeached at all as they aren't government officials.

            This assumption seems rather common, but is, as you and a few others have pointed out, completely unwarranted and is the sole reason for an investigation at this time.

  2. GA Anderson profile image87
    GA Andersonposted 4 weeks ago

    My first thoughts on this topic were that the obviously inappropriate post, (especially given who the president is and the mood of the times),  mentioned in the OP was more an innocent mistake, than an ethical breach by the Trump administration. I just did not see this screw-up as comparable to the dumb Kelly Anne Conway gaffe it is being compared to. Or the "Emollients Clause" controversies it is being equated with.

    A little browsing has me feeling confident that was the case. Here is some food for thought that I think reflects on the "intent" of the post and its author - an International Information Programs, (a State Department program), staff writer.

    ShareAmerica.gov, (share.america.gov), was a John Kerry's State Department website launched in 2014.  Its ShareArmerica About Us page says this;

    "...for sharing compelling stories and images that spark discussion and debate on important topics like democracy, freedom of expression, innovation, entrepreneurship, education, and the role of civil society.”  It provides content for U.S. embassies and consulates in “more than 140 countries to engage with people around the globe on U.S. foreign policy and American society.”

    The content for the site is written by a group of International Information Programs staff writers. Here is one former Deputy Secretary of State official's take on the issue of this controversial post;

    "Moira Whelan, the former Deputy Secretary of State for Public Affairs took to Twitter to explain that “Share America is meant to explain America to the world. A group of staff writers explain Americana to the world.” She writes that “In a large office the staff are trusted to make decisions and I can see how “let’s tell the backstory of Mar-a-lago” seemed like a good idea.” She added that “It was an error in judgement, but the White House has done much more to create this as “normal” than one writer at @StateDept.” She urged that attention is important “but more important is not to assign malicious intent to what may just be an error.” source: Diplopundit.net

    Note; If you take a look at ShareAmerica's homepage, I think you can see that the range of content could easily have legitimately suited the "let's tell Mar-a-lago's backstory"  - if only Donald Trump wasn't the owner, and the president. Again, as I see it; a dumb mistake, but not a nefarious one.

    And here is the ShareAmerica content resume' for that staff writer - Leigh Hartman ShareAmerica Posts*

       *I also looked at the contributions of most of the other content writers, and most had also contributed some Trump-related content, but it does appear she has written several Trump-related posts. Maybe it is just how the assignment ideas fell, or maybe she is a Trump supporter. *shrug*

    Sooo... As many of us that have written boiler-plate content for sites like Constant Content, or other pay-per article sites might recognize the probable thought process by the post's author to be - I think I can agree with Ms. Moiria Whelan's conclusion:
    "... attention is important “but more important is not to assign malicious intent to what may just be an error.”

    GA

  3. GA Anderson profile image87
    GA Andersonposted 4 weeks ago

    Just for informational purposes, here are the pertinent excerpts from a State Department Deputy Spokesperson, (Mr. Toner) - regarding the Mar-a-lago post controversy, in a press briefing held on 25 April.

    Mark C. Toner
    Deputy Spokesperson
    Department Press Briefing
    Washington, DC
    April 25, 2017

    TRANSCRIPT:
    Today's briefing was held off-camera, so no video is available.
    1:46 p.m. EDT

    .............
    *all bolding is mine for direction purposes

    QUESTION: Topic two: I want to get to – try and get to the bottom of this IIP Mar-a-Lago post thing. I take it that you have looked into what happened, and I’m hoping you’ll be able to answer these questions. Was there in place at the time it was posted some kind of a vetting process to determine whether something met or did not meet muster according to the ethics rules? If there was, was it approved? And if there wasn’t, was it – is there a process now in place? And did anyone take a look at it after the fact and determine that it was or was not a breach of the ethics rules?

    MR TONER: Okay, I think I can answer all of those questions, or at least try to. First of all, we didn’t get into this yesterday, but for those who may not know on the line, Share America is a digital platform of the State Department Bureau of International Information Programs, and it advances U.S. foreign policy by providing our missions abroad with social media content in order to engage foreign audiences. So this is an outward-directed bureau. And these stories are intended to help audiences, foreign audiences, learn more about the U.S., including stories about some of the places that they may have heard mentioned in the news. And that, of course, brings us to Mar-a-Lago.

    In – excuse me – with respect to your specific questions, Matt – so this article was researched and written by staff members of the IIP Bureau, and that is what they do. As I said, they are creating content to go out to send out to missions around the world. And it was not reviewed at the time it was sent out.

    What we did review after the questions in the story came up yesterday – and just in answer to your – sorry, just one other point to make is, as a general matter, IIP content generated for Share America is not reviewed outside of the bureau, outside of IIP. Moving forward, in light of this story, we’re going to consider whether any additional review of content is needed or appropriate.

    QUESTION: Okay. And going forward – well, sorry, is there precedent for this kind of thing? You said it’s for foreign audiences about places they’re heard in the news. Do know if there is precedent for privately owned facilities to be featured on this or other State Department platforms, either for-profit or non-profit, for-profit meaning like maybe the Waldorf Hotel or the Palace Hotel now in New York, the places where presidents meet foreign leaders, or non-profit like President Bush’s ranch in Crawford or Sunnylands even, where President Obama met with foreign leaders? Have these places been profiled?

    MR TONER: So again, so Share America has only been in existence for two years. We’re looking back to see if the actual bureau, IIP, the International Information Programs, has done similar articles in the past, because that’s been their mandate for some time. Again, to try to write stories pertaining to places of interest or in the news to foreign audiences.

    All I could do – we did a quick search of Share America, the articles that they have written. None really pertains to the questions you’ve asked about – with respect to locales. I mean, some of the things are – some of the types of articles are secretaries of state hail from many different walks of life, how presidents leave their mark on the Oval Office, how much do you know about U.S. presidents – kind of fact-based but interesting articles to foreign audiences who are trying to learn more about the U.S. Government. But specifically, I don’t know that there have been any articles pertaining to either publicly owned or privately owned properties.

    QUESTION: Okay. Well, was it – was there a determination made about the Mar-a-Lago post that it was not promotional in nature or it did not violate any ethics rules? Was that made? And going forward, suppose – and I realize this is hypothetical, but the President owns numerous private places where he could have meetings – golf clubs, other hotels for example. Is there going to be a ban or anything like – a review of anything that involves those – those issues?


    ...<snipped segment>...

    MR TONER: All right, great. Thanks, Matt. Okay, let me start with the – or finish, rather, with the Mar-a-Lago story, and then we’ll get to the other questions. So it was reviewed. It was determined that this article was, and it’s our contention that it was, meant to provide historical information and context relevant to the conduct of U.S. diplomacy and was not intended to endorse or promote any private enterprise.

    That said, we did make the decision – the department made the decision – to remove the article in light of some of the feedback we were getting about the article’s purpose, or rather misperceptions about its purpose, and I think going forward the department’s going to consider whether any additional review of Share America’s content is appropriate. We obviously take ethics obligations of our employees very seriously, so we’re looking at it. And we recognize that while there was no, obviously, malice aforethought with respect to this article; it was simply intended to inform foreign audiences about places they’ve been hearing about in the news pertinent to U.S. foreign policy and the President’s activities, I think going forward we’re going look at how we can tighten up our review process to ensure there’s no – any – or no greater confusion or no more confusion about some of the content on there.


    Of course we will all read what we are inclined to believe into these statements, but here is the link if interested: State Depart. Press Briefing - Mar-a-Lago post

    GA

 
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