Stormy Daniels Ordered to Pay Trump Nearly $300,000 in Legal Fees

Judge says the sum is reimbursement for money spent defending against a meritless defamation suit

Trump’s lawyer, Charles Harder, and his firm sought a higher payback but Judge Otero docked their request by 25%, faulting the amount of time spent researching motions to transfer and throw out the case. Mr. Harder, who charged Mr. Trump $842 an hour, defended his firm’s hours in court last week and said that when the president is being sued, one errs on the side of being safe.

.. Ms. Clifford continues to press against the president and his former attorney, Michael Cohen, to invalidate a nondisclosure agreement

.. Mr. Avenatti distributed a sketch over social media on April 17 of a man Ms. Clifford said threatened her in a Las Vegas parking lot in 2011, a few weeks after she’d discussed her alleged sexual encounter with the president in a celebrity magazine. Mr. Trump tweeted the following day, “A sketch years later about a nonexistent man. A total con job, playing the Fake News Media for Fools (but they know it)!”

Ms. Clifford argued in the defamation suit that the tweet attacked the veracity of her account and suggested she was falsely accusing someone of committing a crime against her.

.. Judge Otero said he declined to impose anything more significant because Ms. Clifford’s “unwillingness to resort to litigation” in light of Mr. Trump’s “continuing use of rhetorical hyperbole” suggests she’s already been deterred from filing more meritless defamation claims aimed at curbing free speech.

Who Is Behind Trump’s Links to Arab Princes? A Billionaire Friend

The billionaire financier Tom Barrack was caught in a bind.

.. Mr. Trump’s outspoken hostility to Muslims — epitomized by his call for a ban on Muslim immigrants — was offending the Persian Gulf princes Mr. Barrack had depended on for decades as investors and buyers.

.. Mr. Barrack, a longtime friend who had done business with the ambassador, assured him that Mr. Trump understood the Persian Gulf perspective. “He also has joint ventures in the U.A.E.!” Mr. Barrack wrote in an email on April 26.

.. During the Trump campaign, Mr. Barrack was a top fund-raiser and trusted gatekeeper who opened communications with the Emiratis and Saudis, recommended that the candidate bring on Paul Manafort as campaign manager — and then tried to arrange a secret meeting between Mr. Manafort and the crown prince of Saudi Arabia.

.. Investigators interviewed him in December but asked questions almost exclusively about Mr. Manafort and his associate Rick Gates

.. he has said he rebuffed offers to become treasury secretary or ambassador to Mexico.

.. He sought a role as a special envoy for Middle East economic development

.. Mr. Barrack’s company, known as Colony NorthStar since a merger last year, has raised more than $7 billion in investments since Mr. Trump won the nomination, and 24 percent of that money has come from the Persian Gulf — all from either the U.A.E. or Saudi Arabia

.. Mr. Barrack played as a matchmaker between Mr. Trump and the Persian Gulf princes.

.. “He is the only person I know who the president speaks to as a peer,” said Roger Stone, a veteran Republican operative who has known both men for decades. “Barrack is to Trump as Bebe Rebozo was to Nixon, which is the best friend,”

.. By 2010, he had acquired $70 million of the debt owed by Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, on his troubled $1.8 billion purchase of a skyscraper at 666 Fifth Avenue in New York. After a call from Mr. Trump, Mr. Barrack was among a group of lenders who agreed to reduce Mr. Kushner’s obligations to keep him out of bankruptcy.

.. Thomas J. Barrack Jr. and Donald J. Trump first met in the 1980s, and Mr. Barrack got the better of the encounters. He negotiated Mr. Trump into overpaying for two famous assets: a one-fifth stake in the New York department store chain Alexander’s in 1985, and the entire Plaza Hotel in 1988. Mr. Trump paid about $410 million for the Plaza and later lost both properties to creditors.

.. But Mr. Barrack nonetheless parlayed the deals into a lasting friendship, in part by flattering Mr. Trump about his skill as a negotiator.

“He played me like a Steinway piano,” Mr. Barrack recounted in a speech at the Republican convention.

.. people who know him well say he still tells new acquaintances that he is truly honored to meet them, cheerfully doling out superlatives like “first-class,” “amazing” and “brilliant.” He invariably tells the story of his own success as a parable about luck and perseverance, never about talent.

.. He grew up speaking Arabic as the son of Lebanese immigrants to Los Angeles

.. Mr. Barrack wrote back that Mr. Trump was “the king of hyperbole.”

.. “We can turn him to prudence,” Mr. Barrack wrote in an email. “He needs a few really smart Arab minds to whom he can confer — u r at the top of that list!”

.. Mr. Barrack had befriended Mr. Manafort in the 1970s, when they were both living in Beirut and working for Saudi interests.

.. Early in 2016, when Mr. Trump faced the prospect of a contested nomination fight at the Republican convention, Mr. Barrack had recommended Mr. Manafort for the job of campaign manager. “The most experienced and lethal of managers” and “a killer,” Mr. Barrack called him in a letter to Mr. Trump.

.. The Saudi prince had tried to reach the Trump campaign through “a midlevel person” at the rival private equity giant Blackstone

.. Mr. Barrack forwarded to the ambassador a message from Mr. Manafort with a “clarification” that modulated Mr. Trump’s call for a Muslim ban.

.. Mr. Barrack informed Ambassador Otaiba that the Trump team had also removed a proposed Republican platform provision inserted to “embarrass” Saudi Arabia. The provision had called for the release of redacted pages about the kingdom in a report on the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

.. When those two states imposed an embargo on their neighbor Qatar — home to a major United States air base — Mr. Trump broke with his own administration to throw his weight squarely behind the Saudis and Emiratis.

.. Until recently, Mr. Barrack’s most prominent Gulf customers were neither the Emiratis nor the Saudis — but their bitter rivals the Qataris

.. None of the Gulf investments that Mr. Barrack’s company has brought in since Mr. Trump’s nomination have come from Qatar.

 

Don’t Talk to Mueller, Mr. President

In the past, Trump has been careful in his depositions, but since his mode of communication is highly dependent on jaw-dropping hyperbole, gross simplifications and misinformed or misleading assertions, it can’t be a good idea to put him under oath in any circumstance.

.. It also runs counter to the widespread assertion that Trump is “acting guilty,” when he may well be acting like Donald Trump — aggrieved, combative, scornful — when he’s innocent.

Trump boasts he made up trade facts in meeting with Trudeau

The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis says the United States actually has a trade surplus of US$7.7-billion with Canada. The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) – the agency charged with renegotiating NAFTA – calculates the United States’ advantage as being even greater, at US$12.5-billion. According to the USTR, Canada runs a surplus in the trade of goods but the United States more than makes up for it with a surplus in the services sector.

.. The President has long been the focus of fact-checkers – a tally by the Washington Post found more than 2,000 false statements since he took office – but it is rare for him to admit that he does it. His book The Art of the Deal memorably described lying as “truthful hyperbole.”

“It’s an embarrassment to the United States for the President to be lying to other countries. There are a lot of issues where the United States has made commitments to other countries; if they can’t have confidence in the word of the President, they can’t have confidence in those commitments,” said Jordan Tama, a foreign-policy expert at American University in Washington.

Mr. Trump is preparing for sensitive talks with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un – a high-stakes gambit aimed at avoiding a nuclear confrontation.

Roland Paris, Mr. Trudeau’s former foreign-policy adviser and now a professor of public and international affairs at the University of Ottawa, said world leaders learned a while ago to be careful when interpreting what Mr. Trump says and not to engage in a public spat with him.

Trump’s language is a mish-mash of selective facts, contradictions and fabrications, but his actions are a lot more important than his words,” Prof. Paris said. “I think that the Prime Minister has been handling the Canada-U.S. file very brightly and it has involved not publicly provoking a thin-skinned President.”

Mr. Trudeau’s shrewdness is, at least, one thing on which the President would agree. In the fundraising speech, he expressed some grudging admiration for Canada’s firmness at the NAFTA table, where Ottawa is fighting back against Mr. Trump’s protectionist demands.

“Canada,” Mr. Trump said, “they negotiate tougher than Mexico.”

Will the Blowhard Blow Us Up?

Administration officials have been trying to reassure journalists that James Mattis, John Kelly and Rex Tillerson have a pact designed to ensure that one of them is always in the country to watch over Trump in case he goes off the deep end.

.. a Nixon defense secretary, James Schlesinger, got so worried about a cratering Nixon — who was drinking and telling congressmen, “I can go in my office and pick up a telephone, and in 25 minutes, millions of people will be dead” — that he told military commanders to check with him or Henry Kissinger if the president ordered up nukes.

.. In all my interviews of Trump over the years, he never seemed very chesty about foreign intervention. “If only we could have Saddam back, as bad as he was, rather than $2 trillion spent, thousands of lives lost and all these wounded warriors,” he told me during the campaign.

.. His pitch was mostly about turning inward, so America could shore up its economy, security and infrastructure. “Unlike other candidates, war and aggression will not be my first instinct,” he said in his maiden foreign policy speech on the trail.

.. Now, in case North Korea is too far away, Trump is threatening “a possible military option” closer to home, in Venezuela.

.. Watching Trump, 71, and Kim, 33, trade taunts is particularly disturbing because they mirror each other in so many unhinged ways. Trump is a democratically elected strongman and Kim is a fratricidal despot, but they both live in bizarro fantasy worlds where lying and cheating is the norm.

They’re both spoiled scions who surpassed less ruthless older brothers to join their authoritarian fathers in the family business. They both make strange fashion statements with their hair and enjoy bullying and hyperbole. They both love military parades, expect “Dear Leader” displays of fawning and favor McDonald’s and Madonna.

They both demand allegiance. When Trump feels he isn’t getting it or paranoia takes over, he publicly mocks his lieutenants or jettisons them. Kim simply gets out his antiaircraft machine guns and calls up his nerve-agent assassins. He had his uncle killed for, among the reasons, clapping halfheartedly, The Times reported.

“Kim understands Trump better than Trump understands himself,” Trump biographer Michael D’Antonio told me. “He is only comfortable dominating and forcing others into submission. When that’s not happening, he experiences an almost physical discomfort because he feels unsafe. He doesn’t know any other way to achieve status.”

.. Proving there’s no method to his madness, Trump went after Mitch McConnell, who is literally the most important person to Trump in pushing his agenda through Congress and who, as Carl Hulse wrote in The Times, secured the president “the signature accomplishment of his young presidency” by getting Neil Gorsuch confirmed

What’s Wrong with Trump’s Tweets?

It’s more than his tone and demeanor.

But the president’s tweets don’t provoke outrage merely because they’re colorful. The issue is that they’re often directed at inappropriate targets.

..  If the president brandished his characteristic tone and demeanor only for that stately purpose, none but rhetorical prudes would denounce the crudeness of his tweets. Unfortunately, Trump has devoted inordinate amounts of energy to mock and deride celebrities ranging from Megyn Kelly and Samuel L. Jackson to Ronda Rousey and Snoop Dogg.

.. In The Art of the Deal he writes, “A little hyperbole never hurts….It’s an innocent form of exaggeration — and a very effective form of promotion.”

.. Christ pegged the Pharisees as folk who “love the uppermost rooms at feasts” and “the children of them which killed the prophets” before marking them all as a “generation of vipers.” In a less eloquent, but equally effective lambaste, Martin Luther styledHenry VIII, King of England, as “a pig, an ass, a dunghill, the spawn of an adder, a basilisk, a lying buffoon” and “a mad fool with a frothy mouth.” Compared to either, Trump is a mere amateur at doling out verbal abuse.

.. The president, being a former entertainer, knows that his philippics will fall flat if his audience can’t grasp a crucial reference or allusion, so he makes frequent use of those figures that Americans easily recognize: actors, athletes, and TV news anchors—figures that hold an unduly large proportion of America’s national attention. If the average American knew the names of the thousands of peoples and groups that have nothing but a violent contempt for America and the American way, Trump would undoubtedly spend more of his time tweeting out hourly invectives against them instead of TV hosts (terrorists and tyrants make for easier targets). To a limited extent, the president’s choice to focus his vitriol on celebrities reflects the average American’s tragic ignorance of the people who actually threaten our national welfare.

Trust Nothing, Defend Nothing

The Democrats are clearly in full partisan mode, framing every inconvenient, benign, or even potentially exculpatory detail as a smoking gun. The whole “hacked the election” formulation, used both by the Democrats and by allegedly objective reporters, is a misleading bit of hyperbole. Is “meddled with” or “interfered in” too big a concession to reality?

.. Meanwhile, there’s no shortage of hyperbole among those most eager to defend Trump on the Russia story.

.. More seriously, the rush to say there’s nothing to the collusion story is a mirror of the rush to insist the story is everything.

.. There were no meetings with Russians. Well there was that meeting about adoption with that Russian lawyer (attended by the campaign manager). Well, it was a meeting about opposition research that turned into a meeting about adoption, but I had no idea the Russian government was involved. Then the NYT reports last night about an email saying the meeting was pitched as part of a Russian-government operation. Then this morning the Russian lawyer says it was the Trump team that was desperate for Clinton dirt.

.. But that’s my larger point. Who the hell knows? What I just don’t understand is how conservatives can mock, scoff at, and ridicule the idea there might be some legs to this story when Donald Trump does everything he can to make it look like there might be a there there. He fired the FBI director. He told the Russian ambassador he did it to thwart the Russia investigation. He told Lester Holt the same thing. Donald Trump is clearly obsessed with the Russia story and with forging a bromance with Vladimir Putin. Both his son and his son-in-law have ties to Russia and keep having to revise their denials, making anyone who believed them in the first place look foolish.