Salvatore Colleluori

Author ››› Salvatore Colleluori
  • “Trump TV Is Real”: Journalists React To Trump’s Facebook Live Broadcast


    Thirty minutes prior to the final presidential debate, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump advertised that he was airing a pre-debate program on Facebook Live. Given rumors that Trump’s son-in-law was shopping Trump for a TV show earlier this week, journalists noted this could be a “preview” of what could come.

    On October 17, The New York Times reported that Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, “discussed the possibility of a Trump-branded television network with a friend,” floating the idea of setting up a “Trump television channel.” Although neither Kushner nor Trump has confirmed the report, and apparently talks have not progressed beyond informal talks, conversation around this possibility has increased as Trump's support has decreased in the polls.

    A half-hour before the October 19 debate began, Trump advertised that he would be holding a Facebook Live event featuring his surrogates discussing the debate. According to Politico’s Blake Hounshell, the event was a “pregame show featuring two campaign surrogates trashing the the media coverage -- not the Republican nominee himself.” Vox’s German Lopez called it a “test-run” of Trump TV and said it was “awful.” Several other journalists noted that Trump was using this opportunity to pilot Trump TV, and the reviews were not necessarily positive:

    The Daily Beast's Jackie Kucinich

    [Twitter, 10/19/16]

    MSNBC's Kyle Griffin

    [Twitter, 10/19/16]

    The Huffington Post's Christina Wilkie

    [Twitter, 10/19/16]

    CNN's Andrew Kaczynski 

    [Twitter, 10/19/16]

    BuzzFeed News' McKay Coppins

    [Twitter, 10/19/16]

    Politico's Kelsey M. Sutton

    [Twiter, 10/19/16]

  • Why Won't CNN Answer These Questions About Corey Lewandowski?


    CNN and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s campaign are unsuccessfully attempting to defuse the explosive new details surrounding ongoing payments from the campaign to former campaign manager and current CNN commentator Corey Lewandowski.

    As reported by The Washington Post, Trump’s recent campaign filing disclosed that Lewandowski “was paid $20,000 in August by the campaign for what it described as ‘strategy consulting’” through his firm Green Monster Consulting. The Post also reported that “CNN has said previously that Trump’s payments to Lewandowski and his consulting firm were ‘severance’ for his employment by Trump.” However, as explained by the Post, “the description used by Trump’s campaign in the filing -- ‘strategy consulting’ -- also suggested that Lewandowski is playing a more active and current role in the campaign than ‘severance’ would suggest.” Responding to the allegations, campaign spokesperson Hope Hicks maintained that Lewandowski is “no longer involved in the campaign [and] continues to receive monthly severance payments.”

    Hicks’ statements on Lewandowski’s role and CNN’s ongoing employment of someone who is still being paid in some form by the campaign leave several unanswered questions: Where is the money for severance documented, given that the Trump campaign filings call payments to Lewandowski “strategy consulting,” the same term that they used to describe his work while he was employed by the campaign for the last year and a half? Has Lewandowski been double dipping -- i.e. taking money from the Trump campaign for work while also receiving severance? Was CNN aware that Lewandowski was still receiving "strategy consulting" payments from the campaign? Most significantly, why hasn’t CNN suspended Lewandowski already -- or, better yet, fired him?

    As The New York Times noted, the fact that in its most recent FEC filing the Trump campaign listed the August payment “as ‘strategy consulting’” raises “questions about whether [CNN] in effect has a Trump campaign strategist on its payroll.” Politico’s Ken Vogel pointed out a similar issue on Twitter, writing that Trump’s payments to Lewandowski “in AUGUST” appears to be “awfully long after his firing for him to be collecting old fees” and that he couldn’t “remember any [other campaigns] paying severance to fired staff.” The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple also raises the question of why Lewandowski is still receiving severance months after being let go from the campaign. Wemple quotes an employment lawyer suggesting the payments may be spread out as a way to “muzzle or control” Lewandowski:

    A look at the timeline reveals that Lewandowski’s firing from Camp Trump occurred on June 20, or nearly three months ago. That’s a protracted severance-paying period, no?

    It sure is, says employment lawyer Debra Katz of Katz, Marshall & Banks, LLP. “The vast majority of severance agreements that we’ve negotiated are lump-sum payments,” says Katz, especially if the firms have the financial wherewithal to pay them. So structuring the severance payments over a number of months could be the approach of a cash-starved organization.

    There’s another motive, however. “It is not uncommon to string them out as a way to muzzle or control the person who’s receiving the funds,” says Katz.

    It's not just the recent filings in which Lewandowski was paid for “strategy consulting." According to Trump's FCC filings, Lewandowski has received the same type of payment for “strategy consulting” since April 1, 2015 -- before and after he was reportedly fired by the campaign and before and after he began his employment with CNN. It appears Lewandowski has never been paid directly by the Trump campaign, but instead those uninterrupted funds went to the firm registered to him.

    As reported by the Post in August, this isn’t the first time the Trump campaign’s FEC filings did not seem to match how CNN explained -- and justified -- Lewandowski’s employment and the continued payments he was receiving from the campaign. On August 21, the Post noted in passing that FEC filings showed “Lewandowski received his regular $20,000 monthly fee on July 6 – two weeks after he was jettisoned and had been hired by CNN as a political commentator.”

    But the Post’s new report based on the new FEC filings highlights something different -- and far more damning.

    The July 6 disbursement to Lewandowski’s firm reported by the Post in August was a payment for the 2016 primary -- and could technically be for campaign work done in June, before he was a CNN employee. The newly discovered August 11 payment to Lewandowski is a “strategy consulting” disbursement for the 2016 general election, while Lewandowski was being paid by CNN to shill for Trump -- almost a full two months after he was supposedly fired by the candidate.

    So is Lewandowski being paid three times? Twice by the campaign, once by CNN, and all for the same job?

    Lewandowski will reportedly be on CNN later today. If neither the network nor the campaign can explain these discrepancies and answer basic questions about this ridiculous conflict of interest, maybe he will.

  • The Wall Street Journal Baselessly Speculates Virginia Governor “Is Acting In Contempt Of Court” For Restoring Voting Rights To Former Felons


    The Wall Street Journals editorial board criticized Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe for continuing his effort to restore voting rights to former felons, echoing an unfounded Virginia GOP claim that McAuliffe, a Democrat, “is acting in contempt of the court that has rebuked him.”

    On April 22, McAuliffe issued an order restoring voting rights to approximately 206,000 Virginians who lost them due to prior felony convictions. Nearly 13,000 Virginians subsequently registered to vote. But the speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates, William Howell, filed a lawsuit against McAuliffe seeking to stop the restoration of rights to this group of people, arguing the governor did not use his authority properly. The Virginia Supreme Court agreed, halting McAuliffe’s executive action and bumping those who had registered off the voting rolls.

    After the state Supreme Court ruled, McAuliffe again began restoring voting rights to former felons, but on a case-by-case basis, which the court had specifically suggested as an acceptable alternative. As explained by the governor’s office, “While it is our position that the Governor’s April 22nd action was clearly constitutional by any reasonable standard, he will proceed with individual restorations in accordance with the Virginia Supreme Court’s order and the precedent of governors before him.”

    But the Journal still took issue with the latest round of restorations in a August 12 editorial, baselessly suggesting that McAuliffe “is acting in contempt of the court that has rebuked him” and claiming that if McAuliffe “gets away with” restoring voting rights, we would be “well down the road to tyranny”:

    President Obama has charted new levels of executive defiance, but even he hasn’t refused to obey a Supreme Court ruling. Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe has sought to follow Mr. Obama’s executive hubris, and now he’s gone further and is acting in contempt of the court that has rebuked him.

    In July the Virginia Supreme Court struck down his executive order restoring voting rights to 206,000 felons. Under Virginia law the Governor can grant clemency on an individual basis. But the justices wrote that “Governor McAuliffe’s assertion of ‘absolute’ power to issue his executive order” runs “afoul of the separation-of-powers principle” in the Virginia constitution. The individual clemency power, the court admonished, “does not mean he can effectively rewrite the general rule of law.”


    The Democratic Governor claims he is restoring these voting rights by the thousands on an “individual” basis. And he says he plans to do so for all of the more than 200,000 remaining felons by the time his term ends.

    This is contempt of both the court and the legislature, or what is known as the “suspension” of a law simply because an executive disagrees with it. This is why the Founders wrote the Constitution to protect against such actions by kings, and Virginia Republicans have now gone to court again to stop him. Their filing last week, submitted by former U.S. Assistant Attorney General Chuck Cooper, argues that Mr. McAuliffe’s mass restoration orders “have precisely the same scope, precisely the same effect, and accomplish precisely the same unconstitutional suspension of Virginia’s felon-disenfranchisement law.”

    The Journal provides no proof that McAuliffe is violating any court order or not evaluating the restorations on a case-to-case basis as his office described, a process which the Journal explicitly admits is legal under Virginia law, noting that the “Governor can grant clemency on an individual basis.” As McAuliffe’s court filing explains, voting rights were individually restored to “most but not all of the [12,521] people who had previously registered” and to “an additional 6,957 persons, all of whom had requested to have their rights restored, and he did so, again, through individualized orders after a case-by-case review process.” This procedure follows the guidance of the court, which found such an individualized review to be unobjectionable, affirming that “the Governor can use his clemency powers to mitigate a general rule of law on a case-by-case basis.”

    The Journal is no friend to expanded voting rights, especially when the denial of rights disproportionately harms minorities, as barring former felons from voting does. Its opinion pages have argued against the restoration of the Voting Rights Act and for restrictive Voter ID laws.

    And that background makes the Journal’s hostility to McAuliffe’s actions unsurprising. The denial of voting rights for felons has long had a disproportionately negative impact on African-Americans in Virginia. As Erika Wood, the former deputy director at the Brennan Center for Justice, explained in a 2010 Richmond Times Dispatch op-ed, “There is ample evidence in the historical record that” the law denying former felons the right to vote “is firmly rooted in Jim Crow, and its intended effects continue today,” when “one in every six African Americans in Virginia, and one in four African-American men, is permanently disenfranchised under this law. African Americans make up only one fifth of Virginia’s population, but over half of those are disenfranchised.”

  • Broadcast News Outlets Ignored Trump Modeling Agency's Employment Of Immigrants With Improper Visas


    Broadcast network news programs have ignored allegations that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s modeling agency, Trump Model Management, “profited from using foreign models who came to the United States on tourist visas that did not permit them to work here,” as detailed in an August 30 Mother Jones report. The morning, evening, and Sunday news programs on CBS, NBC, and ABC have not reported on the allegations, even after Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) called for an investigation into the model management company.

  • WI Radio Host Talked #NeverTrump With Bill Kristol, Then Immediately Ignored Sen. Ron Johnson’s Trump Support


    Wisconsin radio host Charlie Sykes, who loudly denounced Donald Trump’s campaign during the state’s primary and who has committed himself to the “Never Trump” cause, did not bring up the presumptive Republican nominee when interviewing Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), who has pledged his support to Trump. Just minutes before hosting Johnson, Sykes interviewed Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol, and discussed drafting a third party candidate.

    Sykes gained notoriety for his resistance to Trump ahead of the Wisconsin primary. Unaware of the host’s resistance to him, Trump sparred with Sykes on his show a week before the primary in an interview that Politico called a “#NeverTrump radio buzzsaw.”

    Sykes introduced Kristol on the May 16 edition of his radio show as being “more 'Never Trump' than me if that’s possible.” The two discussed the possibility of drafting a third party nominee with the hope of stopping a Trump presidency. Sykes also brought up a article that labled Kristol a “renegade Jew” for seeking to derail Trump’s campaign.

    Later in the show, Sykes hosted Sen. Johnson, whose Senate seat is viewed as vulnerable, especially with Trump as his party’s presumptive nominee. Over the weekend, Johnson said he was "sympathetic to someone like Mr. Trump" and tried to make it clear he was not endorsing Trump, but rather pledging support to the GOP nominee.

    Despite Johnson’s recent comments, Sykes never asked Johnson about his support of Trump as the presumptive nominee -- nor did he mention Trump’s name during the interview.

    As the Associated Press reported on April 4, GOP strategists have advised vulnerable senators to “keep it local” in their interviews and comments going into the election season, a strategy that was seemingly deployed by Johnson during his interview with Sykes. Johnson and Sykes talked about Johnson’s “Right To Try” legislation, which deals with terminally ill patients using experimental drugs, and his Democratic opponent Russ Feingold's criticism of Johnson for linking his Senate race to 9/11.


  • Trump Supporters Howie Carr and Mark Simone Attack Megyn Kelly's Appearance Following Her Trump Meeting


    Donald Trump supporters Howie Carr and Mark Simone attacked Fox News Channel’s Megyn Kelly, saying she “looks like everybody’s ex-wife in court” and that she is no longer attractive because she has a more “manicured” look.

    On the April 14 edition of his radio show, Mark Simone hosted fellow Trump supporter and Boston radio host Howie Carr. Simone, who has said disparaging remarks about Fox News host Megyn Kelly several times in the past few days, asked Carr what he thought about Trump meeting with Kelly on April 13. Simone said Kelly “came crawling” back to Trump and then began discussing her looks, asking, “Doesn’t she scare you?” and saying “she looks like everybody’s ex-wife in court.” Carr responded by saying that he “liked her better when she had the … less manicured, the less made-up look” and that she “doesn’t attract me as much as her old look used to.” Listen:

    MARK SIMONE (HOST): She came crawling, I guess.

    HOWIE CARR: I don’t know, it’s good for both sides, isn’t it, to have a rapprochement.


    SIMONE: Doesn’t she scare you a little? She looks like everybody’s ex-wife in court, doesn’t she?

    CARR: You know, I used to be on with here sometimes in the afternoon, and you know, I liked her better when she had the sort of -- the less manicured, the less made-up look that she has on at night now. You’re right, she looks just like -- I don’t know what she looks like now, but it doesn’t attract me as much as her old look used to.

    SIMONE: No, too tough.

    Earlier this week Simone hosted his “longtime friend” Trump to discuss the presidential race, and together they questioned GOP rival Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) eligibility to be president because of Cruz’s birthplace in Canada. Carr has also expressed support for his “friend” Donald Trump and has hosted the candidate at least six times since February 1. Carr has vacationed with Trump at the businessman's Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida and often uses his radio show to attack Trump’s rivals. 

  • Trump And NY Radio Host Simone Question Cruz’s Eligibility To Run For President


    New York radio host Mark Simone and GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump questioned whether Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is eligible to run for president because “he was born in Canada.”

    Simone, a self-proclaimed longtime friend of Trump who recently said he "loves Donald Trump," hosted the businessman on the April 12 edition of his WOR show. After saying Colorado’s “system is rigged” because Cruz received the state's entire set of delegates, Simone brought up a hearing by the New Jersey secretary of state to determine Cruz's eligibility to be president because of his birthplace. Trump said Cruz isn't eligible because “he was born in Canada” and you need to be "natural born" which "means on this land." Listen:

    MARK SIMONE (HOST): For the first time, [Cruz] is really being challenged in court, in New Jersey, by the secretary of state about whether he's technically legally eligible to be president. That could turn the whole thing.

    DONALD TRUMP: I didn't even know that. Is that a fact?

    SIMONE: Well, it was reported in the papers, because any secretary of state, that's the guy that --

    TRUMP: Where did you read this? Is this today?

    SIMONE: Yesterday.

    TRUMP: Oh, where? I've got to get that.

    SIMONE: I'm pretty sure it was in the Post. You can find it online.

    TRUMP: Yeah, I'll check it. No he's not -- look, he was born in Canada. He lived in Canada for four years. He was a Canadian citizen 18 months ago.

    SIMONE: Yeah, but the guy that would have standing to bring the case is the secretary of state who has to put him on the ballot. So apparently in New Jersey, it was reported, the secretary of state is going to bring that to court.

    TRUMP: You know what? It’s a great case. I mean, it’s such a great case. That's really amazing. I didn't know that there was reporting on it. I know that he's got a big problem in a couple of states. Big, big problem. Look, he was born in Canada. You're supposed to be natural born. Natural born means on this land. Unless you're born on a military base or something like McCain, which I understand. I get that.

    This isn't the first time Trump has questioned Cruz's eligibility. He responded to a question in January about whether Cruz was eligible to run by saying, “I don’t know. I really don’t know. It depends.” Later that month Trump floated the idea that he might sue Cruz over his citizenship, noting that others have tried but lacked standing, yet as a candidate, Trump has “standing to sue.” Trump revisited the possibility of a lawsuit in February after Cruz released attack ads against him.

  • Richmond Times-Dispatch Ignores Facts To Dismiss Money's Impact On Elections


    A Richmond Times-Dispatch editorial dismissed money's impact on U.S. elections by taking a campaign finance reform advocate out of context while ignoring the overwhelming instances where money has played a crucial role in the election process.

    The March 9 editorial claimed that the theory that "money buys elections ... has never been the case" and that "the facts continue to shatter the myth," citing the presidential campaigns of former Gov. Jeb Bush and Gov. Scott Walker, well-funded candidates who dropped out of the race. The editorial continued:

    The hard reality has led even some of the nation's most persistent campaign-finance scolds, such as Rick Hasen -- author of "Plutocrats United" -- to concede that "In spite of the rhetoric of some campaign reformers, money doesn't buy elections." Others still insist that it does, or will, someday -- just you wait. Big-donor money hasn't bought the 2016 election, says The New York Times -- "yet."


    But while unions, nonprofits, and businesses can talk themselves hoarse, they can't cast ballots. Only the voters can do that -- and they often vote in ways that resoundingly reject the efforts of so-called big money. Just ask Jeb Bush about that.

    First, the editorial selectively quotes UCLA professor Rick Hasen, whose piece in The Washington Post explains that while "money doesn't buy elections," it "increases the odds of electoral victory and of getting one's way on policies, tax breaks and government contracts." His article continued:

    And the presidential race is the place we are least likely to see money's effects. Looking to Congress and the states, though, we can see that the era of big money unleashed by the Supreme Court is hurtling us toward a plutocracy in which the people with the greatest economic power can wield great political power through campaign donations and lobbying.

    Hasen's argument was backed up by a recent release by U.S. PIRG, which found that "87.5% of higher fundraising candidates won their congressional [primary] race and now head to the general election."

    Even the New York Times piece the Times-Dispatch's editorial dismisses is grounded in reality. In the 2012 election, a majority of the money spent in the election by both parties and super PACs spiked in October, the month before the general election. The Times piece argues -- again in a section left out of the Dispatch's editorial -- that major donors "like the Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelson will come off the sidelines" in the general election.

    There are real impacts to more money in politics. When elected members of the judiciary know their rulings could be used against them during an election, they are less likely to rule in favor of defendants and more likely to hand down longer sentences. And as the Brennan Center for Justice explained in a blog post, even though there is a scientific consensus around man-made climate change, those who are less likely to believe the scientific consensus are more likely to receive money from "dirty energy sources."

  • Iowa Newspaper Editorial Boards Call Out Sen. Grassley's Supreme Court "Obstructionism"


    On February 23, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) joined other GOP leaders in declaring his intention to refuse consideration of any person President Barack Obama nominates to fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by Justice Antonin Scalia's February 13 death. Iowa newspaper editorial boards have criticized Grassley and other Senate Republicans' obstructionism, writing that it's "wrong," it's "shameful," and it "disrespects the Constitution."