The Spread of Disinformation and the 2020 Election | Amanpour and Company | Amanpour and Company

President Trump has personally pledged to spend one billion dollars if it will keep him in the White House. McKay Coppins, a journalist for The Atlantic, has identified how a substantial amount of this funding is being spent. After creating a Facebook page so he could follow pro-Trump social media accounts and communicate with online Trump supporters, Coppins uncovered something remarkable: a campaign-coordinated effort to undermine journalists and the mainstream press on a mass scale. Coppins told Hari Sreenivasan about the Trump campaign’s stunning effort to launch one of the largest disinformation campaigns ever conducted.

Trump Campaign Secretly Paying $180,000 A Year To His Sons’ Significant Others

Lara Trump and Kimberly Guilfoyle are each receiving $15,000 per month through the campaign manager’s private company, GOP sources said, to dodge FEC rules.

President Donald Trump’s campaign is secretly paying one Trump son’s wife and another one’s girlfriend $180,000 a year each through the campaign manager’s private company, according to top Republicans with knowledge of the payments.

Kimberly Guilfoyle, the girlfriend of eldest son Donald Trump Jr., and Lara Trump, wife of middle son Eric Trump, are each receiving $15,000 a month, according to two GOP sources who are informal White House advisers and who spoke on condition of anonymity.

They were unsure when the payments began but say they are being made by campaign manager Bradley Parscale through his company rather than directly by either the campaign or the party in order to avoid public reporting requirements.

I can pay them however I want to pay them,” Parscale told HuffPost on Friday, but then declined to comment any further.

Critics of the arrangement, including Republicans, said the setup was designed to get around Federal Election Commission rules that require campaigns, political parties and other committees to disclose their spending in detail.

A lot of people close to Donald Trump are getting rich off of his campaign,” said Paul Ryan, a campaign finance legal expert at the watchdog group Common Cause. “They don’t want donors to know that they’re getting rich. Because, at the end of the day, it’s donor money.”

Stuart Stevens, a top aide to 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney’s campaign, was even more blunt: “That’s why Parscale has the job. He’s a money launderer, not a campaign manager.”

Lara Trump, 37, was a campaign “surrogate,” making appearances and conducting media interviews on behalf of her father-in-law, in the 2016 campaign and continues to participate in “Women for Trump” events as a 2020 campaign “senior adviser.” In early 2017, Parscale confirmed he had hired her to work for his company, which was, in turn, continuing to work for Trump’s campaign.

Guilfoyle, 51, has been accompanying Donald Trump Jr. to campaign events since they began dating two years ago. She had been a Fox News personality until she left the network in 2018. In January 2020, she was named chair of Trump Victory, a joint fundraising committee used to solicit and distribute money to the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee.

“She’s doing stuff, but she’s just like this silly cheerleader,” one of the White House advisers said of Guilfoyle. “She gets on these donor calls, and it’s ridiculous.”

The existence of the payments, but not the amounts, was first reported by The New York Times, which recounted a scene in which Guilfoyle confronted Parscale about why her payment checks were always late and Parscale responded that he would look into it. That incident took place June 18, 2019, at a Trump reelection rally in Orlando, Florida, suggesting that payments to Guilfoyle had been taking place for some time.

FEC rules require that campaigns, political parties and other committees disclose all expenditures, including payments to employees. But the Trump campaign and the RNC have been getting around it by routing many of their payments through Pascale’s private companies.

In all, Parscale’s firms ― Giles-Parscale and Parscale Strategy LLC ― have been paid $38.9 million by Trump’s campaign, the RNC, joint fundraising committees and a pro-Trump super PAC between the day Trump took office through February 2020, according to the latest filings available.

Numerous RNC officials and members did not respond to HuffPost queries about the arrangement. One who did, Arizona committee member Bruce Ash, wrote: “Drop dead!”

Trump funneling donor money into his children’s households builds on his practice of funneling it into his own pocket, which began in 2016, right after he became the presumptive Republican nominee and began raising large amounts of GOP money. Trump immediately quintupled the rent he was charging his campaign at Trump Tower, from $35,458 per month to $169,758. He also began billing the campaign five- and six-figure sums for use of his hotels and golf courses for hosting fundraisers.

Those practices continued after his election and through to this day. His campaign still pays Trump Tower $37,542 a month in rent, even though it is based in a high-rise office building in Arlington, Virginia. The campaign and the RNC continue to host fundraisers at Trump’s properties, putting hundreds of thousands of dollars at a time into his own cash registers.

All of those entities are owned by the Trump Organization, which in turn is owned by a trust that Trump created after his election and of which he is the sole beneficiary.

Grift and graft is the family business,” said Robert Weissman, president of the liberal group Public Citizen.

The payments to Guilfoyle and Lara Trump may also complicate the Trump campaign’s efforts to attack presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden for accepting lucrative board memberships when his father was vice president.

Trump and his top aides in 2018 saw Joe Biden as the most dangerous threat to his reelection among the Democrats in the primary field and sought to damage his candidacy by raising questions about his son’s business activities. Indeed, Trump wound up getting impeached for trying to coerce the president of Ukraine into announcing an investigation into Hunter Biden, using $391 million in congressionally approved military aid as leverage.

Even some of the Republican senators who voted to acquit him said that what Trump did was wrong and illegal but not bad enough to warrant his removal from office.

Conservatives have embraced the idea that nothing is nonpartisan

About half of Hillary Clinton’s supporters in 2016 didn’t have any close friends who supported Donald Trump. The result is that partisans tend to see the other party as actively harmful to the country.

.. Critiques predicated on making insincere claims to affect future behavior is referred to as “working the referees.” Social media companies aren’t as used to this tactic.

.. The video shows senior executives expressing frustration about Trump’s victory, certainly, but as Gizmodo notes, several of those executives are themselves immigrants. There’s no discussion about the company actively working to squelch opposing viewpoints through its technology. That’s simply presented by Parscale as an almost natural extension of the political views expressed by the company executives.

In other words, Parscale seems to be assuming (or is at least suggesting) that the executives’ views alone are evidence that the tools are biased against their political opponents.

.. If you assume that Democrats are all hyper-ideological and an active threat to the country, you’re probably less prone to give a Democrat (or, for that matter, a Trump critic) the benefit of the doubt that they’re acting objectively. Particularly when sources you trust are arguing constantly that those individuals’ actions aren’t objective and fair.

.. Does Attorney General Jeff Sessions truly think that tech companies are biased against conservatives? Is he simply working the refs? Is he trying to score much-needed points with his boss, for whom this is a regularly cited issue? It’s hard to say. Among rank-and-file Republicans, though, it’s likely that concern about and skepticism of the political left makes it much easier for them to assume that Google’s executives aren’t just lamenting Trump’s presidency on video but also actively trying to cripple it behind the scenes.

There’s an irony undergirding all of this, particularly Parscale’s tweet. During the 2016 campaign, Parscale ran the Trump team’s digital advertising efforts, which included spending tens of millions of dollars on Facebook ads, leveraging Facebook staff who embedded with the campaign to guide their strategy. Of all the ways in which Facebook directly and indirectly helped Trump win the presidency, none was more important than that ad-buying partnership, as Parscale well knows.

In other words, Parscale certainly knows how to work tech companies for Trump’s political benefit. In 2018, though, positioning those liberal-run companies as inherently biased is a better use of his political capital.

Trump Picks ‘Data-Driven’ Digital Expert to Run 2020 Re-Election Campaign

Brad Parscale, the digital director of president’s 2016 campaign, will lead Trump’s unusually early re-election effort

President Donald Trump has chosen the digital director of his 2016 campaign to lead his 2020 re-election effort, further advancing an unusually early campaign process.

.. Mr. Trump formally filed to run for re-election on Inauguration Day last year, earlier than any president in modern history.

.. Mr. Parscale will take the reins of a campaign that has been active​ in the first year of ​a presidential administration, a historical oddity. The campaign last year raised $43 million—four times what former President Barack Obama raised in his first two years in office, a period when he wasn’t actively fundraising.

.. No president who has served under modern campaign finance laws that date back to President Jimmy Carter has held a re-election fundraiser before entering his third year in office

.. Mr. Parscale, a longtime web marketer, had never before worked on a presidential campaign before joining Mr. Trump in 2015.

.. Mr. Parscale was responsible for creating and placing ads on social-media platforms such as Facebook, developing the campaign’s website and driving online fundraising efforts.