On Tuesday night, the New York Times ran a report that Donald Trump planned to sign an executive order “targeting what he sees as anti-Semitism on college campuses by threatening to withhold federal money from educational institutions that fail to combat discrimination.” The immediate reaction was alarm and concern, not the least of which stemmed from the Times’ line about how the order would “effectively interpret Judaism as a race or nationality,” which struck many as having a deeply worrying parallel to the actions of one Adolf Hitler, whose Nazi-era laws defined Jewish people not as Germans but as a separate and “inferior” race and nationality. The other, perhaps more important cause for alarm was the general fact that the last three years have demonstrated Trump can’t be trusted for shit, and that nearly everything he does has an ulterior and nefarious motive. Also, his documented history of anti-Semitic comments, the most recent of which happened, checks notes, just this past Saturday.
Trump signed the order on Wednesday, and, in viewing the text, some Jewish leaders have said it is not significantly different than the guidelines issued by Barack Obama in 2010, which provided an expanded definition of anti-Semitism. Sam Bagenstos, a University of Michigan Law professor who worked on the same issues in President Obama’s Justice Department, told Vox, “The text of the EO is really a nothingburger that doesn’t change the law in any way. The key question will be how it is applied in practice.” The application, some fear, could “result in reclassifying campus advocacy for the Palestinians as anti-Semitism—forcing universities to either crack down on student free speech or risk losing a whole lot of federal funding.” To that end, many believe the order has nothing to do with protecting American Jews and everything to do with Israel—which is not hard to believe given that the president doesn’t actually seem to know that most Jewish people who live in the United States are not Israeli, not to mention his repeated insistence that American Jews who don’t support the country are traitors who need to be brought to heel.
The whole thing has naturally brought up a lot of talk about how, while Trump claims to love himself some Hebrews, he has a strange way of showing it, i.e. running wildly anti-Semitic campaign ads, tweeting Hillary Clinton’s face atop a pile of money next to a Star of David and the phrase, “Most Corrupt Candidate Ever!” and claiming that a group of neo-Nazis had some “very fine people” in the mix. It’s almost as though, and we don’t want to step on any toes here, Donald Trump is an anti-Semite, a charge to which his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, says, How DARE you.
Writing in the pages of the Times, Kushner insisted today that the president is “taking meaningful action to crush” the “poison of anti-Semitism” that has been on the rise throughout the world, failing to note that hateful acts against Jews in the U.S. have spiked since 2016 and hit their highest level in two decades in 2017. (Surely this was an oversight on young Jared’s part.) Kushner, who works for an administration that passed a travel ban against Muslims and employs white nationalist Stephen Miller, boldly proclaims that “we will stand firmly against using taxpayer resources to entrench and subsidize invidious discrimination.” Invoking his grandparents’ experience in the Holocaust, he writes, “I could not be more proud of President Trump’s new policy.”
Kushner, of course, is no stranger to defending his constitutionally indefensible father-in-law. In June, he insisted to Axios that Trump is in no way racist, and that the whole birther thing happened “a long time ago.” (Fact-check: Trump only conceded that Barack Obama was born in America in 2016.) On the campaign trail, he happily defended the then candidate after the Clinton–Star of David incident, shamelessly writing, “I know the difference between actual, dangerous intolerance versus these labels that get tossed around in an effort to score political points.” That little exercise backfired when Kushner’s cousins took to Facebook to call him out, with one posting, “That my grandparents have been dragged into this is a shame. Thank you Jared for using something sacred and special to the descendants of Joe and Rae Kushner to validate the sloppy manner in which you’ve handled this campaign. From the references to ‘Palestine’ at the AIPAC conference (which got Donald jeered) to the justification of the itchy Twitter fingers your father-in-law has, you’ve managed to further prove what so many of us have known for many years. Kudos to you for having gone this far; no one expected this. But for the sake of the family name, which may have no meaning to you but still has meaning to others, please don’t invoke our grandparents in vain just so you can sleep better at night. It is self serving and disgusting.”
Anyway, long story long, while Trump’s executive order may not be as dangerous and worrisome as one might have expected—mazel tov there!—he hasn’t suddenly become a friend to the Jews, probably because he’s a hack with no principles, a trait he shares with his daughter’s husband.
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JPMorgan is really sorry these hugely racist incidents were caught on tape
It’s an exceptionally bad look when a multinational bank is telling would-be customers they can’t become private clients because they’re black, when that same bank tells one of its black employees he can’t deal with clients because people are intimidated by the color of his skin, or when it’s explained that an African American woman with $372,000 to her name is not a worthwhile client because she’s coming from “Section 8 [housing]” and will just squander the money. Doubly so when these incidents are recorded! Per the Times:
Banks, including JPMorgan, say they are committed to eradicating the legacy of racism. And they insist that any lingering side effects simply reflect stubborn socioeconomic imbalances in society as a whole, not racial bias among their employees. What recently transpired inside a cluster of JPMorgan branches in the Phoenix area suggests that is not true.
[Jimmy] Kennedy was told he was essentially too black. His financial adviser, Ricardo Peters, complained that he, too, was a victim of racial discrimination. What makes their cases extraordinary is not that the two men say they faced discrimination. It is that they recorded their interactions with bank employees, preserving a record of what white executives otherwise might have dismissed as figments of the aggrieved parties’ imaginations.
In the interaction regarding the woman being denied financial services, for instance, one of his Peters’s bosses, [Frank] Venniro, told him, “You’re not investing a dime for this lady,” saying he knew from experience she’d quickly blow through the money. “It happens every single time,” he said. “This is not money she respects,” he said. “She didn’t earn it.” In another instance, Peters was accused of violating the bank’s code of conduct by taking customers’ files home. When he denied it to Venniro, he was allegedly told he needed to be more aware of how colleagues perceived him, which Peters took to mean his white managers viewed him suspiciously. After filing a formal complaint and noting “that I feel that I am being treated differently because of my race and color of my skin,” Peters said Venniro suggested he work in the less wealthy branch. Less than two months later, he was fired.
In a statement, a JPMorgan spokeswoman, Patricia Wexler, defended the bank’s treatment of Peters and of the client denied a spot in the private wealth group. She said the bank hadn’t been aware of the recordings and that “in light of some new information brought to us by the New York Times,” the company had placed one of its executive directors on administrative leave while his conduct was investigated.
Trump’s trade adviser is circulating a memo advocating for tariffs under a nom de plume
Yes, the acronym you’re looking for here is WTF:
President Trump must decide within days whether to proceed with the next round of tariffs on $160 billion of Chinese goods, which are slated to go into effect on Sunday. [Peter] Navarro, a senior trade adviser to Mr. Trump and a China skeptic, has cast doubt on the willingness of Beijing to meaningfully overhaul its trade practices and has advocated the tariffs as a tool to force China to change its behavior. He’s not the only one making that point. To illustrate those concerns, Mr. Navarro harnessed his literary muse, Ron Vara, in a memo that is circulating in Washington. Sent from an email address purportedly belonging to Ron Vara, the memo highlights public commentary in favor of keeping the pressure on China with more tariffs. “Much debate going on,” Ron Vara wrote, referring to the decision about whether to roll back or double down on China tariffs. “Here’s one side that has not been in focus. Thoughts?”
Ron Vara is the fictional character that Mr. Navarro created and cited as an expert more than a dozen times in 5 of his 13 books, where he offered searing critiques of China. Mr. Navarro’s use of the fabricated source emerged in October after an Australian scholar reviewed all of Mr. Navarro’s writing and discovered that one of his sources was imaginary.
In a statement, Navarro said that the memo was real, and in what was presumably an attempt to make himself sound sane, furthered the impression that he’s completely unhinged. “On a daily basis, I speak to, or correspond with, people that I respect, and don’t necessarily agree with, to receive their thoughts on issues critical to American workers and the American people,” Navarro told reporter Alan Rappeport. “This kind of active dialogue makes for the best possible decisions.” He added: “Such a free exchange of ideas is essential to the success of an administration that is simultaneously putting up the best economic numbers in a half century and achieving success after success on the trade front.”
Pete Buttigieg’s Campaign Said He Had Nothing to Do With a Canadian Bread Price-Fixing Scandal (BuzzFeed)
Federal Reserve predicts no interest rate cuts in 2020, ignoring Trump’s calls to boost the economy (Washington Post)
Horowitz pushes back at Barr over basis for Trump–Russia probe (Politico)
Trump Treasury staffer leaves after getting embroiled in college-admissions scandal (Politico)
Three Men Are Charged in $722 Million Cryptocurrency Fraud (Bloomberg)
Succession Star Nicholas Braun, aka Cousin Greg, to Play Adam Neumann in WeWork TV Series (THR)
Trump pays $2 million in damages ordered by judge over misuse of charity funds (Washington Post)
“A f---ing soap opera”: The health care drama riveting the White House (Politico)
Pigeons in tiny cowboy hats are a mystery in Las Vegas (CNN)
— Wildly incriminating emails show the White House knew Trump was extorting Ukraine
— Is Rudy Giuliani truly in trouble?
— The secret life and strange death of Quadriga cofounder, Gerald Cotten
— The hunt for Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged enabler Ghislaine Maxwell
— New polling suggests Democrats’ impeachment push could alienate key voters
— From the Archive: Inside Jeffrey Wigand’s epic multibillion-dollar struggle
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