Today in Terrible Trumpery

[Content Note: Invasions of privacy; plagiarism; fraud; descriptions of sexual assault.]

This is not a complete list, because who has the time, but here are five stories about the horror show that is Donald Trump that you need to see today:

1. Buzzfeed: "Sources: Donald Trump Listened in on Phone Lines at Mar-A-Lago."
At Mar-a-Lago, the Palm Beach resort he runs as a club for paying guests and celebrities, Donald Trump had a telephone console installed in his bedroom that acted like a switchboard, connecting to every phone extension on the estate, according to six former workers. Several of them said he used that console to eavesdrop on calls involving staff.

Trump's spokeswoman Hope Hicks responded to written questions with one sentence: "This is totally and completely untrue."

...BuzzFeed News spoke with six former employees familiar with the phone system at the estate.

Four of them — speaking on condition of anonymity because they signed nondisclosure agreements — said that Trump listened in on phone calls at the club during the mid-2000s. They did not know if he eavesdropped more recently.

They said he listened in on calls between club employees or, in some cases, between staff and guests. None of them knew of Trump eavesdropping on guests or members talking on private calls with people who were not employees of Mar-a-Lago. They also said that Trump could eavesdrop only on calls made on the club's landlines and not on calls made from guests' cell phones.

Each of these four sources said they personally saw the telephone console, which some referred to as a switchboard, in Trump's bedroom.
2. New York Times: "Trump Institute Offered Get-Rich Schemes with Plagiarized Lessons."
Mr. Trump also lent his name, and his credibility, to a seminar business he did not own, which was branded the Trump Institute. Its operators rented out hotel ballrooms across the country and invited people to pay up to $2,000 to come hear Mr. Trump's "wealth-creating secrets and strategies."

And its customers had ample reason to ask whether they, too, had been deceived.

As with Trump University, the Trump Institute promised falsely that its teachers would be handpicked by Mr. Trump. Mr. Trump did little, interviews show, besides appear in an infomercial — one that promised customers access to his vast accumulated knowledge. "I put all of my concepts that have worked so well for me, new and old, into our seminar," he said in the 2005 video, adding, "I'm teaching what I've learned."

Reality fell far short. In fact, the institute was run by a couple who had run afoul of regulators in dozens of states and had been dogged by accusations of deceptive business practices and fraud for decades. Similar complaints soon emerged about the Trump Institute.

Yet there was an even more fundamental deceit to the business, unreported until now: Extensive portions of the materials that students received after paying their seminar fees, supposedly containing Mr. Trump's special wisdom, had been plagiarized from an obscure real estate manual published a decade earlier.
3. Cracked: "The Laziest Lie of Donald Trump's Entire Campaign (So Far)."
For the past few weeks I've been running a small Twitter project called @DebunkTrump that's focused on picking apart the stuff he says because I was sick of doing that on my own Twitter account but couldn't stop the actual research part because I'm obsessive and broken please help. Only a few days in, I've already learned something more interesting than any individual lie I could debunk: the Trump Twitter account is making up supporters out of thin air.

...Look, if you search through Trump's twitter history, you'll find that it's not at all uncommon for Trump to quote accounts that are not only not real, but obviously not real.
4. NBC News: "After Saying He Forgave Loans to Campaign, Trump Won't Release Proof."
When Donald Trump said last Thursday he was forgiving over $45 million in personal loans he made to his campaign, the announcement drew plenty of coverage. Many even reported Trump's statement as if the deal was done.

But it's not.

A week later, NBC News has learned the FEC has posted no record of Trump converting his loans to donations. The Trump Campaign has also declined requests to share the legal paperwork required to execute the transaction, though they suggest it has been submitted.

...The delay could matter, because until Trump formally forgives the loans, he maintains the legal option to use new donations to reimburse himself. (He can do so until August, under federal law.)

...Even the remote possibility that Trump could tap new donations to pay himself fed skepticism among GOP donors, who wanted assurances that money intended for the election would not end up in Trump's own pockets.
5. Huffington Post: "Why the New Child Rape Case Filed Against Donald Trump Should Not Be Ignored." (Although I have not excerpted any details of the alleged assaults here, please note that there are descriptions at the link.)
Given all this, and based on the record thus far, Jane Doe's claims appear credible. Mr. Epstein's own sexual crimes and parties with underage girls are well documented, as is Mr. Trump's relationship with him two decades ago in New York City. Mr. Trump told a reporter a few years ago: "I've known Jeff for 15 years. Terrific guy. He's a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side. No doubt about it, Jeffrey enjoys his social life."

Powerfully, Jane Doe appears to have an eyewitness to all aspects of her claim, a witness who appears to have put herself in substantial danger by coming forward, because at a minimum Mr. Epstein knows her true identity.

...Jane Doe's claims fall squarely into the long, ugly context of Mr. Trump's life of misogyny, are consistent with prior sexual misconduct claims, are backed up by an eyewitness, and thus should be taken seriously. Her claims merit sober consideration and investigation.

We live in a world where wealthy, powerful men often use and abuse women and girls. While these allegations may shock some, as a lawyer who represents women in sexual abuse cases every day, I can tell you that sadly, they are common, as is an accuser's desire to remain anonymous, and her terror in coming forward.

What do you call a nation that refuses to even look at sexual assault claims against a man seeking to lead the free world?

Rape culture.
This is one day in the campaign of Donald Trump. And not even a complete list of stories today alone about his vast history of fraud and abuse. He is really just a deeply unethical and harmful human being. It's that simple.

I've got a piece at BNR about some of this latest dirt on Donald: "Donald's chief qualification for the presidency, by his own admission, is that he's a wealthy guy who made lots and lots of money and knows how business works. But the way he made that money is by scamming people. And his knowledge about 'how business works' seems unusually centered on how to exploit business law to defraud and abuse people and avoid accountability for it. He's the very sort of business leader that is worst for both American workers and American consumers." Much more at the link.

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