TBR News May 19, 2020

May 19 2020

The Voice of the White House
Washington, D.C. May 19, 2020: Working in the White House as a junior staffer is an interesting experience.
When I was younger, I worked as a summer-time job in a clinic for people who had moderate to severe mental problems and the current work closely, at times, echos the earlier one.
I am not an intimate of the President but I have encountered him from time to time and I daily see manifestations of his growing psychological problems.
He insults people, uses foul language, is frantic to see his name mentioned on main-line television and pays absolutely no attention to any advice from his staff that runs counter to his strange ideas.
He lies like a rug to everyone, eats like a hog, makes lewd remarks to female staffers and flies into rages if anyone dares to contradict him.
It is becoming more and more evident to even the least intelligent American voter that Trump is vicious, corrupt and amoral. He has stated often that even if he loses the
election in 2020, he will not leave the White House. I have news for Donald but this is not the place to discuss it. “
Comment for May 19, 2020: “If Donald Trump were not sitting in the Oval Office, he would be sitting in a cell in the Federal Prison at Leavenworth, Kansas.
There is a thick file of information on Donald that shows him cheating on his income tax, involving himself in laundered drug money from the Russians and other entertaining activities.
It’s too bad Al Capone is dead or Trump could make him head of the CIA.
All of Washington seems to be aware of the failings of our Beloved Leader but so far, nothing has happened to him.
Perhaps if he started shooting at old ladies from the window of his limo, there might be some action set in motion.
’Though with patience stand we waiting…..’”

The Table of Contents
• Alarm and Confusion at Fox News as Trump Says He Takes Hydroxychloroquine
• Nancy Pelosi fears for ‘morbidly obese’ Trump after hydroxychloroquine admission
• President Trump’s Obesity Is Symptom of National Emergency
• Coronavirus and hydroxychloroquine: Is there evidence it works?
• Fired State IG Was Investigating Saudi Arms Sale
• Coronavirus turns Germans more critical of U.S.: survey
• Will Donald Trump end up in prison? He could be a step closer …
• 2001-2014: Russians Own Over $98 Million in Trump Properties in Florida
• Where Did Donald Trump Get Two Hundred Million Dollars to Buy His Money-Losing Scottish Golf Club?
• From Gestapo Chief to senior CIA official.
• The Encyclopedia of American Loons

Alarm and Confusion at Fox News as Trump Says He Takes Hydroxychloroquine
May 19, 2020,
by Robert Mackey
The Intercept
Fox News viewers were warned on Monday not to take medical advice from the president, following Donald Trump’s surprise announcement that he takes the drug hydroxychloroquine, based on his belief that it could prevent him from becoming infected with Covid-19 — a belief unsupported by scientific evidence.
Moments after the president told reporters that he began taking the medication about a week and a half ago — which is when the vice president’s press secretary, Katie Miller, tested positive for the coronavirus — Fox News host Neil Cavuto issued an urgent warning, telling the channel’s largely elderly audience that there is no evidence the drug can ward off Covid-19 but it can cause potentially fatal irregular heartbeats.
After defending a recent Veterans Administration analysis of the drug’s lack of efficacy, which Trump had baselessly described as politically motivated, Cavuto told viewers to be careful, since people predisposed to irregular heartbeats could die as a result of taking hydroxychloroquine. What’s more, as a cardiologist told The Intercept last month, many people don’t know that they have the underlying heart issue that predisposes them to dangerous heart rhythms.
“If you are in a risky population here and you are taking this as a preventative treatment to ward off the virus, or in a worst case scenario, you are dealing with the virus, and you are in this vulnerable population, it will kill you,” Cavuto said. “I cannot stress enough: this will kill you.”
That urgent warning was echoed by Dr. Bob Lahita, who told Cavuto that doctors at St. Joseph University Hospital, where he is chairman of medicine, had seen “absolutely no effect” on Covid-19 from hydroxychloroquine. Lahita also explained that the drug needs to be used only under close medical supervision, since it can cause “a fatal arrhythmia, which means an irregular heart rhythm, which will cause your death — your death will be instantaneous.”
Within minutes, however, those dire warnings were undercut by Cavuto’s next guest, a Fox News medical contributor, Dr. Janette Nesheiwat, who called in to say that she believed that hydroxychloroquine had helped some Covid-19 patients she treated and that she thought the president’s decision to try the drug as a preventive measure was “very smart.”
Less than 30 minutes after the president made the remarks that prompted Cavuto’s alarm, regular service was resumed on the pro-Trump network when the pundit Greg Gutfeld appeared and downplayed concerns about the potentially fatal side effects of the drug. “If it’s available to you and you can take it, you do it,” Gutfeld said.
The pundit also insisted that Trump was right to dismiss research from the department of veterans affairs that showed no benefit from hydroxychloroquine, claiming that “the media glommed onto” that study “because they want the drug to be a failure because they want Trump to fail.”
In the following hour’s programming block, however, Dr. Manny Alvarez, the senior managing editor for health news at Fox, seemed to reject that take, telling the anchor Bret Baier that the president’s promotion of the drug was “highly irresponsible.”
In his defense of the drug on Monday, Trump had referred to an observational, retrospective analysis of the records of 368 Veterans Affairs Covid-19 patients as, “that phony report that was put in.” The study displeased the president because it found “no evidence” that the drug he has repeatedly promoted, hydroxychloroquine, kept those infected with Covid-19 from needing ventilators, and suggested that the drug might have increased the likelihood of death.
Ignoring a larger study published last week in the Journal of the American Medical Association, of 1,438 patients hospitalized in metropolitan New York, that also found the drug to be ineffective at treating Covid-19, Trump falsely claimed that the survey of veterans was the only one that undercut his claims for the drug, and implied that it had somehow been skewed by his political enemies.
“The only negative I’ve heard was the study where they gave it — was it the VA? — with, you know, people that aren’t big Trump fans gave it,” the president claimed. He then accused Veterans Affairs staff of abusing patients — “we had thousands of people that were sadists, that were stealing, that were robbers, that were horrible people, they beat up our veterans…” — in an apparent effort to suggest that the scientists who conducted the study, who were mostly not VA employees, had somehow rigged the results to make him look bad. The report, he claimed, “was a very unscientific report.”
Somewhat lost in the reaction to Trump’s announcement that he was taking the drug on his own initiative, after a White House doctor agreed to his request to prescribe it, was the fact that the president brought up the subject of hydroxychloroquine without being asked about it, in the course of a rambling attack on whistleblowers.
After disparaging the intelligence community whistleblower who had revealed his own corrupt effort to coerce the president of Ukraine into smearing Joe Biden last year, Trump sought to tarnish Dr. Rick Bright, the ousted vaccine and emergency preparedness official who filed a whistleblower complaint this month.
Bright said that he was forced out of his position in the department of health and human services in part because, “contrary to misguided directives, I limited the broad use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, promoted by the Administration as a panacea, but which clearly lack scientific merit.”
The doctor also said that he had “resisted efforts to provide an unproven drug on demand to the American public,” and instead “insisted that these drugs be provided only to hospitalized patients with confirmed COVID-19 while under the supervision of a physician.” Bright said that he had only approved the use of the two drugs in clinical settings because they “have potentially serious risks associated with them, including increased mortality observed in some recent studies in patients with COVID-19.”
Bright reiterated those objections in an interview with “60 Minutes” which prompted a series of outraged tweets from Trump after it aired on Sunday night.
Rather than engage with the substance of any of those objections to how his government responded to the global pandemic, Trump reacted as he does to any criticism, by claiming that the only possible explanation for it is that the person who leveled it has invented a false charge to undermine him politically.
This is why Trump so frequently connects criticism of his handling of the pandemic to objections to his conduct regarding Ukraine, which he also frames as purely partisan. During his visit to the CDC in March, for instance, when Trump claimed that there was no problem with testing and said, “anybody that needs a test can have a test,” he added, “and the tests are all perfect, like the letter was perfect, the transcription was perfect.” For Trump, who often refers to the partial transcript of his call with Ukraine’s president as “the letter,” the document that alarmed almost everyone else who read it revealed that he had done nothing wrong.
That’s also why, when asked on Monday about one of his tweets in response to Bright’s “60 Minutes” interview, in which he called for a review of the “whole Whistleblower racket,” Trump began his response with a three minute diatribe about the Ukraine whistleblower.
When Trump finally arrived at the subject of Bright, he referred to him not by name but as “this other guy, with the hydroxychloroquine.”
Clearly not grasping that Bright had explained in his formal complaint that he had signed a letter approving only limited use of the drug, under supervision, and had rejected a White House request to make hydroxychloroquine “available to the public outside of a hospital setting and without physician supervision,” Trump falsely claimed that the ousted official had signed off on the drug before saying later that “he doesn’t believe in it.”
“A lot of good things have come out about the hydroxy,” Trump said next. “You’d be surprised at how many people are taking it, especially the frontline workers — before you catch it. The frontline workers — many, many are taking it,” he claimed. “I happen to be taking it,” he added. “And then we have this crazy whistleblower, this fake whistleblower, get out and try and, you know, knock it,” he said a short time later.
Trump also explained that he was inspired to take the drug by “a very well-crafted letter by a man who’s a respected doctor up in Westchester, maybe a little beyond Westchester… a little up higher and, in New York.” That appeared to be a reference to Dr. Vladimir Zelenko, a pro-Trump physician in Kiryas Joel, a town of 35,000 Hasidic Jews that is on across the Hudson River from Westchester. Zelenko’s claims for the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine, in combination with azithromycin and zinc sulfate, against Covid-19 were relentlessly promoted by Trump allies like Sean Hannity and Rudy Giuliani.
An analysis by Media Matters for America last month suggested that repeated claims on Fox News programs that hydroxychloroquine was a miracle cure for Covid-19 might have implanted that belief in Trump’s mind.
The network has since responded to research that suggests the drug is both ineffective against the coronavirus and potentially dangerous when used without proper medical supervision by claiming, like Trump, that Democrats are using the issue to attack the president.
“I think we are making a little too big deal out of this, like we always do when it comes to hydroxychloroquine,” the Fox News pundit Jesse Watters said on Monday evening. “I don’t understand why it’s been politicized like it has.”
Better clinical data on the efficacy of the drug could be available later this year. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which is directed by Dr. Anthony Fauci, announced last week that it had started a clinical trial, with 2,000 patients, “to evaluate whether the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, given together with the antibiotic azithromycin, can prevent hospitalization and death” from Covid-19.” The research is expected to conclude in October, although the study completion date is next March, more than a month after the presidential inauguration.
“Although there is anecdotal evidence that hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin may benefit people with COVID-19,” Fauci said in a news release announcing the study, “we need solid data from a large randomized, controlled clinical trial to determine whether this experimental treatment is safe and can improve clinical outcomes.”
In the meantime, there is also anecdotal that promotion of the drug as a Covid-19 cure by the cable news network and the president who is its biggest fan has convinced some die-hard Trump supporters to embrace it. At a protest on Long Island last week, a Trump supporter calling for an immediate end to the state’s public health orders told a reporter that he did not need to maintain social distance from anyone because, “I got hydroxychloroquine; I’ll be fine, bro.”

Nancy Pelosi fears for ‘morbidly obese’ Trump after hydroxychloroquine admission
The US House Speaker says president should not be taking a drug that has not been approved to ward off coronavirus
May 19, 2020
The Guardian
Nancy Pelosi has led a chorus of surprise and alarm after Donald Trump said he was taking the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine to ward off coronavirus.
Trump’s own government has warned that the drug should only be administered for Covid-19 in a hospital or research setting due to potentially fatal side effects.
The US House Speaker did not mince her words when she was asked on CNN about the president’s decision.
“He’s our president, and I would rather he not be taking something that has not been approved by the scientists, especially in his age group and his, shall we say, weight group … morbidly obese, they say,” she said.
Trump is 73. At his last full checkup in February 2019 he passed the official threshold for being considered obese, with a Body Mass Index of 30.4.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a BMI of 40 or above is considered “severe” obesity, which some also call “morbid” obesity.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer called Trump’s remarks about hydroxychloroquine “dangerous.”
“Maybe he’s really not taking it because the president lies about things characteristically,” Schumer said on MSNBC.
He added: “I don’t know whether he is taking it or not. I know him saying he is taking it, whether he is or not, is reckless, reckless, reckless.”
The revelation was also noted in China.
Hu Xijin, editor of Communist Party mouthpiece the Global Times, said Trump was leading the US response to the pandemic with “witchcraft”.
Trump has spent weeks pushing hydroxychloroquine as a potential cure or prophylaxis for Covid-19 against the cautionary advice of many of his administration’s top medical professionals. The drug has the potential to cause significant side effects in some patients and has not been shown to combat the new coronavirus.
Several prominent doctors said they worried that people would infer from Trump’s example that the drug works or is safe.
“There is no evidence that hydroxychloroquine is effective for the treatment or the prevention of Covid-19,” said Dr. Patrice Harris, president of the American Medical Association. “The results to date are not promising.”
People should not infer from Trump’s example “that it’s an approved approach or proven,” because it’s not, said Dr David Aronoff, infectious diseases chief at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville.

President Trump’s Obesity Is Symptom of National Emergency
by Medical Director – James F. Loomis Jr., MD, MBA
Physicianc Committee for Responsiblel Medicine
The results of President Trump’s annual physical exam are in: He is obese. He also has elevated cholesterol and evidence of heart disease. Of course, the president is not alone. His health is a symptom of the national health emergency touching almost every American.
More than 93.3 million adults (almost 40 percent of the population) in the United States have weight in the obese range. Heart disease is the No. 1 killer in the United States, and the American Heart Association’s Heart and Stroke Statistics – 2019 Update finds that 48 percent (121.5 million) of all adults in the United States have some type of cardiovascular disease.
The two conditions often go hand in hand. Obese and overweight people live shorter lives and live with more chronic diseases, including heart disease, according to a study published in JAMA Cardiology. Those with BMIs higher than 24.9 (the president’s is now 30.4) increased their risk for heart disease, developed heart disease earlier in life, and were more likely to die from a cardiovascular event.
But heart disease is just one of more than a dozen chronic diseases associated with obesity. Having a BMI greater than or equal to 30 is linked to type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, mental illness such as clinical depression and anxiety, body pain, and difficulty with physical functioning, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
And tragically, these diseases are also affecting people at a younger age as childhood obesity continues to skyrocket. Research published in the journal Circulation found that obese children show evidence of significant heart disease as young as age 8. And earlier this month, a study published in The Lancet found that six obesity-related cancers—multiple myeloma, colorectal, uterine, gallbladder, kidney, and pancreatic cancer—are on the rise in young adults with steeper rises in successively younger generations.
Besides the chronic disability and decrease in quality of life these chronic diseases bring to those who suffer from them, there is a tremendous economic impact on our society. This is the real national emergency. In 2017, total health care costs in the United States have risen to 3.5 trillion dollars and are expected to continue to climb over the coming years. Yet the CDC estimates that 90 percent of those dollars were spent on the treatment of chronic disease, many of which are preventable. Furthermore, the CDC estimates that eliminating just three risk factors—poor diet, inactivity, and smoking—would markedly reduce death rates from cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer.
As stated above, one of the major causes of these problems are unhealthful food choices—such as the president’s fondness of meaty, cheesy fast-food. And it doesn’t help that he encourages others to eat it. In fact, the White House recently served the Clemson Tigers, who won this year’s College Football Playoff National Championship, an artery-clogging line-up of burgers and pizza from McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King, and Domino’s.
A study published in the journal Circulation found that people who eat fast food once a week increase their risk of dying from heart disease by 20 percent. Two to three fast-food meals a week increase the risk of premature death by 50 percent. Four or more fast-food meals a week increase the risk of dying from heart disease by nearly 80 percent.
Ditching meat and dairy products could do wonders for the health of all Americans. A scientific review my colleagues published last year found that a plant-based diet causes weight loss, reduces the risk of death from cardiovascular disease by 40 percent, and fully or partially opens blocked arteries in up to 91 percent of patients. A healthy diet and lifestyle can also reduce the risk for a heart attack by 81-94 percent, while medications can only reduce the risk by 20-30 percent.
If more Americans, including those in leadership positions, adopted and promoted a plant-based diet, it could potentially markedly reduce the prevalence of many chronic diseases and their associated health care costs, helping the United States address its ongoing national health emergency.

Coronavirus and hydroxychloroquine: Is there evidence it works?
May 19. 2020
by Jack Goodman and Christopher Giles
BBC News
US President Donald Trump has said he’s taking the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine as a preventative measure against Covid-19, although scientists have warned about side effects.
Studies are underway to examine if hydroxychloroquine (and a similar drug chloroquine) are effective against the coronavirus.
We’ve looked at what we know so far about these drugs.
Who’s raised concerns about using them?
The World Health Organization has said it’s concerned by reports of individuals self-medicating and causing themselves serious harm.
These safety concerns have been echoed by a former top US health official.
Dr Rick Bright, who was removed from his post in April leading the government’s vaccine development efforts, says President Trump’s focus on these drugs has been “extremely distracting to dozens of federal scientists”.
And the US Food and Drugs Administration, which granted emergency approval for using them in certain settings only, has also warned about possible side effects.
Is there evidence they might treat Covid-19?
President Trump has previously referred to the potential of hydroxychloroquine in White House briefings. At a press conference in April, he said: “What do you have to lose? Take it.”
And Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro claimed in a video that “hydroxychloroquine is working in all places”, although that was subsequently removed by Facebook for breaching its misinformation guidelines.
The publicity given to these drugs led to a global surge in demand for them.
‘Ousted’ vaccine expert says US is facing its ‘darkest winter’
‘Ousted’ US vaccine expert to file complaint
Following Mr Trump’s comments in late March, there was a sharp increase reported in prescriptions in the US for both chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine.
Tablets containing chloroquine have long been used in the treatment of malaria to reduce fever and inflammation, and the hope is that they can also work against the virus that causes Covid-19.
There are ongoing trials in various countries on using the drugs to prevent the illness. As part of these studies, frontline workers who are highly exposed to the virus are taking it as a prophylactic.
Other studies are looking into whether it can help patients who already have Covid-19.
In the US, various trials are under way for a combination of drugs including chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine and an antibiotic called azithromycin, for treating Covid-19 patients.
But so far, there is insufficient evidence from these trials as to their effective use in either prevention or in treatment.
“We need larger, high-quality randomised clinical trials in order to better evaluate their effectiveness,” says University of Oxford’s Kome Gbinigie, author of a report on anti-malarial testing for Covid-19.
There are also risks of serious side effects, including renal and liver damage.
Which countries authorised their use?
In late March, the US Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) has granted “emergency use” authorisation for these drugs in the treatment of Covid-19 for a limited number of hospitalised cases.
The FDA is not saying they definitely work. But it does mean that in specific circumstances, hospitals can request and use the medicines from government stockpiles for use in Covid-19 treatment.
But on 24 April, the FDA also issued a warning about the dangers of using the substances because of reports of heart rhythm problems in patients.
Other countries are also deploying these anti-malarial drugs to varying degrees.
France has authorised doctors to prescribe them for patients with Covid-19, but the country’s medical watchdog has also warned of side effects.
India’s health ministry recommended the use of hydroxychloroquine as a preventative treatment for healthcare workers, as well as households in contact with confirmed cases if they have a prescription from a doctor.
However, India’s government research body has warned against the unrestricted usage of the anti-malarial drug and said it was “experimental” and only for emergency situations.
Several Middle Eastern countries have authorised its use or are conducting trials.
Is there enough chloroquine available?
As interest in these drugs has grown as a potential treatment for Covid-19, many countries have seen high demand and shortages.
Chloroquine and its derivatives have long been widely available in pharmacies, particularly in developing countries, for the treatment of malaria.
This is despite their declining efficacy against malaria, as the disease has become increasingly resistant.
A number of countries restricted sales so that chloroquine was only available on prescription or in hospitals.
India – a major producer of these anti-malarial drugs – at one point stopped exports. But it lifted the ban after President Trump made a personal plea to India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi.
In Nigeria, households still regularly use tablets containing chloroquine for treating malaria, even though it was banned in 2005 for first-line use because of its declining effectiveness.
But news of its possible use against Covid-19 led to growing demand, and the Nigerian Centres for Disease Control told people to stop taking it.

Fired State IG Was Investigating Saudi Arms Sale
A key House Democrat says that might be why he was fired.
May 18, 2020
by Katie Bo Williams
Defense One
The recently-fired State Department inspector general was investigating a controversial decision by the Trump administration to sidestep congressional approval for $8 billion in arms sales to Saudi Arabia last year, a key House Democrat alleged on Monday.
The probe ”may be another reason for [Inspector General Steve Linick’s] firing,” House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., said in a statement. “We don’t have the full picture yet, but it’s troubling that Secretary Pompeo wanted Mr. Linick pushed out before this work could be completed.”
The Saudi arms probe was first reported by the Washington Post.
Linick, who was fired last week by President Donald Trump on Pompeo’s recommendation, was nearly finished with the probe, according to a committee aide, and had briefed State Department leadership on his findings sometime in the last few months. He is the latest in a string of inspectors general to be dismissed by Trump as part of what critics have described as a loyalty purge. Linick played a small role in Trump’s impeachment hearings and is reported to have also been investigating whether Pompeo used taxpayer resources for personal errands.
The White House and State Department provided no reason for Linick’s dismissal. Trump, in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said only that he had lost confidence in Linick.
The move drew swift criticism from Democrats and a handful of Republicans, including frequent Trump critic Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah.
“The firings of multiple Inspectors General is unprecedented; doing so without good cause chills the independence essential to their purpose,” Romney wrote on Twitter on Saturday. “It is a threat to accountable democracy and a fissure in the constitutional balance of power.”
Senate Finance Committee chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, has also called for more information on the dismissal. “Although [Linick] failed to fully evaluate the State Department’s role in advancing the debunked Russian collusion investigation, those shortcomings do not waive the President’s responsibility to provide details to Congress when removing an IG,” Grassley said in a statement. “A general lack of confidence simply is not sufficient detail to satisfy Congress.”
The arms-sale investigation revolves around the Trump administration’s use of an emergency declaration to push through arms sales to both Saudi Arabia and the UAE in the spring of 2019. By invoking a rarely used provision in the Arms Export Control Act, Trump was able to greenlight 22 arms deals that were blocked by Congress in the wake of the killing of Washington Post columnist and U.S. resident Jamal Khashoggi.
It was not the first time the executive branch had sidestepped Congress’ attempt to block a foreign arms sale. The Carter administration used the provision in 1979 to sell arms to Yemen and the Reagan administration in 1984 sold Stinger missiles to Saudi Arabia, Rachel Stohl, head of the Conventional Defense Program at the Stimson Center, explained to Defense One at the time. It’s difficult for lawmakers to block foreign arms sales, but often they can slow them, much like they’ve done with other sales to Saudi and UAE during the Trump administration.
Engel’s committee, along with top Senate Foreign Relations Committee Democrat Sen. Bob Menendez, N.J., has launched its own investigation into Linick’s dismissal. The two lawmakers are demanding that the State Department turn over all records related to the firing by Friday, May 22.
A spokesman for Pompeo did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Marcus Weisgerber contributed to this report

Coronavirus turns Germans more critical of U.S.: survey
May 18, 2020
BERLIN (Reuters) – Germans view the United States less positively since the outbreak of the coronavirus crisis while their attitudes towards China have improved, a survey showed on Monday.
In the poll of 1,000 Germans conducted by Kantar Public for the Koerber Foundation, 73% stated their opinion about the United States had deteriorated due to the current health crisis.
This contrasted with 36% of respondents who said their views about China, where the new coronavirus was discovered late last year, had become more negative due to the pandemic.
One out of four survey participants said that their opinion of China had improved. Still, 71% backed the statement that China could have been more transparent in its crisis management to slow down the spread of the virus.
The shift in attitudes means that only 37% of Germans still want closer ties with the United States, sharply down from 50% in the last survey conducted in September 2019.
This compares with 36% who are in favour of closer ties with China, clearly up from 24% in the previous pool.
“Germans’ scepticism about the United States is growing, a worrying trend that should give political decision-makers on both sides of the Atlantic food for thought”, said Nora Mueller, an expert on international affairs at the Koerber Foundation.
Reporting by Michael Nienaber, Editing by William Maclean

Will Donald Trump end up in prison? He could be a step closer …
Joe Biden has pledged that, if elected, he won’t pardon Trump. Is the president’s attempt to whip up a scandal about Obama because he is scared of going to jail himself?
May 19, 2020
by Arwa Mahdawi
The Guardian
OBAMAGATE! OBAMAGATE! Donald Trump seems to think that if he yells “Obamagate” often enough and loud enough, it will magic a scandal into existence and send his arch-nemeses, Barack Obama and Joe Biden, to jail.
On Monday, the US attorney general, William Barr, burst his boss’s bubble and dismissed the possibility of a criminal investigation into Obama or Biden. Because, you know, they didn’t do anything wrong. Trump responded to Barr’s statement in his usual fashion: sulking like a petulant child and saying: “Well, if it was me they would [investigate]” before continuing to babble incoherently.
It may be wishful thinking, but I have a feeling that one reason Trump is so keen to accuse Obama and Biden of criminality is because he is starting to get nervous about going to jail himself. Last week, Biden pledged that, if elected president, he wouldn’t use his executive powers to pardon Trump of potential crimes. This wasn’t the first time the presumptive Democratic nominee has said he wouldn’t go easy on Trump. In October, Biden told an Iowa radio station that it had been a mistake for Gerald Ford to pardon his predecessor, Richard Nixon, after Watergate in 1974. Pardoning Trump, Biden said, “wouldn’t unite [the US]” and would send the message that some people are above the law.
Of course, as it stands, the US president is above the law. In 1973, amid the Watergate scandal, the Department of Justice adopted the position that a sitting president is “constitutionally immune” from criminal prosecution, a position it reaffirmed in 2000. As long as he is president, Trump is safe.
When he leaves office, however, it is another matter: there are a host of charges he might face. These include obstruction of justice charges in relation to the Russia investigation; illegally withholding military aid to Ukraine in order to pressure them to investigate his political rivals; and soliciting campaign donations from foreign nationals – all of which Trump denies. According to the investigative site the Intercept, the laws Trump has potentially broken in his interaction with Ukraine and China as president could land him 10 years in prison.
And it is not just Trump’s conduct as president that has opened him to potential legal trouble. There is also the matter of his financial and tax dealings, which are the subject of numerous lawsuits.
Importantly, how long Trump stays in power has a bearing on any potential legal liability. The statute of limitations on obstruction of justice charges, for example, is only five years. So if Trump gets another term, he will run down the clock on that. Honestly, if you want to do the crime without doing the time, it really pays to be president.
If Trump ever goes to jail, it will be one of the happiest days of my life. Not everyone is so enthusiastic about “locking him up”, however. Earlier this year, the then Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang said that, if he were president, he wouldn’t investigate Trump: “If you look at history around the world, it’s a very, very nasty pattern that developing countries have fallen into, where a new president ends up throwing the president before them in jail.”
Look, I understand that the US, where people die because they can’t afford diabetes medication, doesn’t want to be like a “developing country”. Nevertheless, there is a very nasty pattern into which authoritarian regimes have fallen, where the leader does whatever they like with no repercussions. I am not sure the US wants to be like that, either.
I have no idea what the chances of Trump ending up in prison are, but I am pretty sure he is not happy that there is even a small possibility he might swap the White House for the “big house”. But his approval ratings are dropping and the chances of a President Biden are rising. That means Trump is going to do everything he can to win re-election in November; he is not just fighting for another term, he is also fighting for his freedom. He is fighting to avoid the possibility of a Trumpgate.

2001-2014: Russians Own Over $98 Million in Trump Properties in Florida
At least 63 Russian oligarchs purchase $98.4 million in properties in seven Trump-branded luxury towers in South Florida. They include businessmen with deep ties to the Putin regime and suspected criminals.
None of the buyers are members of Vladimir Putin’s inner circle. Alan Garten, the chief lawyer for the trump Organization, said the story of Russian oligarchs buying so much Trump property “is an overblown story that is media-created. I’ve been around this company and know the company’s dealings.” The Russian ownership is much higher than is publicly known, as about a third of the owners are LLCs (limited liability companies) who routinely hide the identities of property owners. And the nationalities of some of the buyers is not publicly known.
The South Florida area has a large concentration of Trump-owned and/or branded buildings. Sunny Isles Beach, which has six of the seven Trump-branded residential towers, has one of the highest concentrations of Russian-born residents in the US.
Six of those seven Trump properties in Florida are the result of an agreement between Trump and the father-and-son development team of Michael and Gil Dezer. Gil Dezer says that the project generated some $2 billion in initial sales, of which Trump received a commission, 4%, for an estimated profit of anywhere between $20 and $80 million. In March 2017, one of those properties, the Trump International Beach Resort, continued to generate profits for Trump. Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA) said in 2017: “While [Trump] has denied having invested in Russia, he has said little or nothing about Russian investment in his businesses and properties in the United States or elsewhere. This should concern all Americans and is yet another reason why his refusal to release his tax returns should be met with considerable skepticism and concern.” Some of the Russians who own Trump-branded property are using the properties to “stow cash,” in the words of the team of Reuters journalists who authored the initial report. One buyer, Pavel Uglanov, is a former deputy minister for industry and energy in the Saratov regional government of central Russia. He bought a 3-bedroom apartment in Trump Hollywood for $1.8 million in 2012, and sold it for $2.9 million two years later. Uglanov struggled to keep businesses running in America. In August 2016, Uglanov posted a photo of himself on Facebook standing with Alexander Zaldonostov, leader of a motorcycle gang calling themselves the “Night Wolves.”
Both the “Night Wolves” and Zaldostanov personally were made subject to US financial and travel restrictions. The US government said that “Night Wolves” stormed a Ukrainian government naval base and a gas facility during Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
The “Night Wolves” have strong ties to the Kremlin.
Trump began doing business with the Bayrock Group, a real estate development organization with its headquarters in the Trump Tower. He met founder Tevfik Arif, a Russian born in then-Soviet Kazakhstan, and Russian-born American businessman Felix Sater, COO of Bayrock and a convicted felon, through a Trump Tower leasing agent. Bayrock arranged for the Trump Organization to become involved in multiple developments that were marketed under the Trump name.
The first Trump-Bayrock deal, a 19-story condominium tower and hotel complex in Phoenix, fell through in 2005 after organized resistance from residents. A follow-up project in Fort Lauderdale also collapsed after lawsuits and claims of criminal fraud tarnished the project’s reputation. Trump dodged the lawsuit by asserting he was not the developer and bore no responsibility for the problems.
Eventually, Trump and Bayrock engaged in a series of deals leading to the construction of the Trump SoHo in New York, which became the centerpiece of a RICO investigation. The firm’s organizational structure was deliberately designed to make it difficult to determine how it worked, or who profited from what business dealing.

Where Did Donald Trump Get Two Hundred Million Dollars to Buy His Money-Losing Scottish Golf Club?
July 13, 2018
by Adam Davidson
The New Yorker
etween meeting the Queen of England and Vladimir Putin, President Trump will spend this weekend at Turnberry, the golf course he bought in 2014 and rechristened Trump Turnberry. This property has not received the attention it deserves. It is, by far, the biggest investment the Trump Organization has made in years. It is so much bigger than his other recent projects that it would not be unreasonable to describe the Trump Organization as, at its core, a manager of a money-losing Scottish golf course that is kept afloat with funds from licensing fees and decades-old real-estate projects.
No doubt, the President will be excited to visit. After buying the property for more than sixty million dollars, he then spent a reported hundred and fifty million pounds—about two hundred million dollars total—remaking the site, adding a new course, rehabbing an old one, and fixing up the lodgings. It is possible, though, that he will have some harsh words for his staff. The Turnberry has been losing an astonishing amount of money, including twenty-three million dollars in 2016. The Trump Organization argued that these losses were the result of being closed for several months for repair. However, revenue for the months it was open were so low—about $1.5 million per month—that it is hard to understand how the property will ever become profitable, let alone so successful that it will pay back nearly three hundred million dollars in investment and losses.
This is the first edition of a weekly column in which I hope to expose, explore, and analyze the financial activity of our President and his associates—including his family, his political appointees, and business partners—and make the case for greater transparency. We know, of course, that the Trump Organization has worked with some truly questionable business associates, that it has run afoul of anti-money-laundering laws, and that its most high-profile business expansion—a line of three- and four-star hotels—has all but collapsed. But, for all the coverage of Trump’s finances, there is so much we just don’t know. And Trump Turnberry offers a tantalizing and maddeningly incomplete glimpse into the ways in which our President makes and spends money.
President Trump has proclaimed himself the “king of debt,” a proud master of “doing things with other people’s money.” So it was quite surprising when Jonathan O’Connell, David A. Fahrenthold, and Jack Gillum revealed in a Washington Post story in May that Trump had abruptly shifted strategies and begun spending hundreds of millions of dollars in cash to fund projects. In the nine years before he ran for President, the Post reported, the Trump Organization spent more than four hundred million dollars in cash on new properties—including fourteen transactions paid in full. In fifteen years, he bought twelve golf courses (ten in the U.S., one in Ireland, and a smaller one in Scotland), several homes, and a winery and estate in Virginia, and he paid for his forty-million-dollar share of the cost of building the Trump Hotel in Washington, D.C.—a property leased to Trump by the U.S. government. But his largest cash purchase was the Turnberry, followed by tens of millions of dollars in additional cash outlays for rehabbing the property.
Using what appears to be more than half of the company’s available cash to purchase Trump Turnberry makes no obvious sense for any business person, but especially for Donald Trump. It is a bizarre, confounding move that raises questions about the central nature of his business during the years in which he prepared for and then executed his Presidential campaign.
While Trump has portrayed himself as uniquely aggressive in his use of debt, borrowing money is central to any real-estate business. By borrowing money, developers increase their profits when successful, reduce their losses when they fail, and are able to diversify their holdings to increase the likelihood of success. By 2014, Trump was seen by lenders as a high-risk bet because he had so many bankruptcies and so few successful projects. But, if he had used the three hundred million dollars he spent on Turnberry as a pledge, he could have surely received several hundred million in loans at a competitive rate. With, say, a billion dollars total, he could have invested in projects around the world. Instead, he chose to put nearly all of his available cash in an old, underperforming course in a remote corner of Scotland.
We know so little about the internal finances of the Trump Organization’s activities elsewhere that it is hard to understand where all of the money spent on Turnberry came from. Through the public disclosures required of someone running for and becoming President, many media outlets have tried to re-create a model for Trump’s business, recognizing that, by his own frequent admission, he often exaggerates his worth. Forbes came up with a figure of a net worth of just over three billion dollars, with less than two hundred million in available cash. This is an astonishing sum, of course.
However, the portfolio of assets that Trump owns does not suggest that he would have so much money that he can casually spend a few hundred million on a whim. Much of his wealth is tied up in properties that lose money or are not especially profitable. A comprehensive analysis by the Wall Street Journal, in 2016, concluded that Trump brought in about a hundred and sixty million dollars in income a year. (“The income number is wrong by a lot,” Trump said, though he provided no details.) With that money, Trump had to pay for his business, his taxes (if he paid any), his personal life style, and that of his family. His Boeing 757 alone cost more than ten thousand dollars per hour of use, not to mention the dozens of staffers at his various properties, the clothes and food and jewelry of a status-conscious family, and countless other expenses that could easily eat up all of that income. There simply isn’t enough money coming into Trump’s known business to cover the massive outlay he spent on Turnberry.
In congressional testimony, Glenn Simpson, the founder of Fusion GPS, the firm that hired Christopher Steele to report out the document that became known as the Steele dossier, wondered aloud if the money really was Trump’s. If so, why would he have spent it in this location and not elsewhere? (A recent report by R&A, the world’s leading golf organization, shows that there is far more opportunity in Asia, Africa, and Latin America—where golf is growing quickly—than in Scotland, the country most oversupplied with courses, clubs, and resorts.)
We don’t know. We can’t, until we learn far more about Trump’s internal finances. It can’t be dismissed, out of hand, that there is an innocent explanation for the Trump Turnberry purchase. Eric Trump told the Post that Trump had “incredible cash flow,” and that none of the cash used to purchase the fourteen properties in full came from outside investors or from selling off other assets. Perhaps Trump actually did make far more than we know. Perhaps he sees something in the business of golf that others have missed, and he has a vision for how to turn the money-losing property into a thriving concern. Or, as some have suggested, he may have become sentimental and wanted a deeper connection to his mother’s Scottish roots.
There is another way to view the investment in Trump Turnberry. Even before the financial crisis of 2008, Trump found it increasingly difficult to borrow money from big Wall Street banks and was shut out of the rapidly growing pool of institutional investment. Faced with a cash-flow problem, he could have followed other storied New York real-estate families and invested in the ever more rigorous financial-due-diligence capabilities required by pension funds and other sources of real-estate capital. This would have given him access to a pool of trillions of dollars from investors.
Instead, Trump turned to a new source of other people’s money. He did a series of deals in Toronto, Panama, the Dominican Republic, Azerbaijan, and Georgia with businesspeople from the former Soviet Union who were unlikely to pass any sort of rigorous due-diligence review by pension funds and other institutional investors. (Just this week, the Financial Times published a remarkably deep dive into the questionable financing of Trump’s Toronto property.) He also made deals in India, Indonesia, and Vancouver, Canada, with figures who have been convicted or investigated for criminal wrongdoing and abuse of political power.
We know very little about how money flowed into and out of these projects. All of these projects involved specially designated limited-liability companies that are opaque to outside review. We do know that, in the past decade, wealthy oligarchs in the former Soviet Union and elsewhere have seen real-estate investment as a primary vehicle through which to launder money. The problem is especially egregious in the United Kingdom, where some have called the U.K. luxury real-estate industry “a money laundering machine.” Golf has been a particular focus of money laundering. Although the U.K. has strict transparency rules for financial activity within the country, its regulators have been remarkably incurious about the sources of funds coming from firms based abroad. All we know is that the money that went into Turnberry, for example, came from the Trump Organization in the U.S. We—and the British authorities—have no way of knowing where the Trump Organization got that money.
The goal of laundering money is to take the proceeds of a criminal activity—government corruption, tax fraud, drug trade, or many others—and to disguise its origin. Many oligarchs in the former Soviet Union who made their money by expropriating the state’s wealth want to move their money into a more stable nation with greater rule of law. This presents a challenge: How can one insert illegally obtained funds into a system that requires due diligence? The answer, quite often, is to use shell companies to disguise the flow of funds. Although we cannot say that Trump himself knowingly engaged in money laundering, we do know with certainty that much of his business in the past decade was in the industries most known for money laundering, in the locations most conducive to money laundering, and with people who bear the key hallmarks of money launderers.
President Trump will spend the weekend playing golf at his newest and most financially confounding major project. The President has refused to release his tax returns or to provide anything other than the barest minimum of required financial disclosure. His business is an odd one, hurtling from real-estate development to casinos to licensing to golf to roadside motels, with no obvious logic. We know far too little about how he has made and spent his money, and much of what we do know is troubling. There are countless ways for a President, his family, his Cabinet, and his associates to profit from the Presidency. There are also realistic fears about past business partners using their knowledge to unduly influence the President and his policies. Congress has the power to uncover much of what we would want to know, but is declining to do so. We still don’t know if the Mueller investigation will focus on questionable transactions that don’t clearly and directly involve Russian influence during the campaign. In short, it is up to us, citizens and journalists, to do what we can to unravel the financial entanglements of the President, to make sense of the seemingly insensible.
In this case, the questions are simple. Did Trump take a turn, in the midst of his years-long frenzy of overseas deals with questionable partners, toward the sentimental use of his own cash to fund a hopeless money pit? Or has Trump’s business practice stayed constant? Did he purchase and rehabilitate Turnberry, as he did so much else, with other people’s money?

From Gestapo Chief to senior CIA official.

On May 22, 1945, a German Wehrmacht General, Reinhard Gehlen, the former head of the German Army High Command’s Foreign Armies East, surrendered along with his key staff members to the United States military at Fischhausen in southern Germany.
Gehlen’s unit was responsible for gathering and analyzing military intelligence on the Soviet Union,. His staff accomplished this by interrogating prisoners in army POW camps—captured Soviet military personnel and, in their headquarters—Soviet defectors. They also studied battlefield intelligence from captured Soviet documents, maps and code books. Further material was obtained by signals intelligence which listened to Soviet non-coded, low-level combat unit radio traffic. These methods of gathering combat intelligence are standard procedures still used by all armies.
During the war, Gehlen did not have intelligence agents in the Soviet Union. The General was not accustomed to gathering and analyzing Soviet political data. Unlike ‘Gestapo’ Müller, whose radio playback section had direct contact with very high-level Soviet intelligence agents inside Russia, Gehlen dealt strictly with combat intelligence.
On August 26, 1945, Gehlen and four of his closest assistants were flown to Washington for substantive talks with U.S. authorities. Gehlen was the subject of an inter-agency struggle when Allen Dulles of the OSS, once their station chief in Switzerland during the war, and General William Donovan, commander of the agency, attempted to secure Gehlen and his files for themselves. Dulles eventually won and his assistant Frank Wisner was appointed to oversee the former head of Foreign Armies East.
The Gehlen team was based at Fort Hunt, near Washington. Gehlen began his new career by preparing a series of reports which were well received. In July of 1946, Gehlen returned to Germany, and set up shop at Pullach, a former housing project for elite Nazi officials such as Martin Bormann. Gehlen was instructed to build an intelligence agency capable of conducting the highest level surveillance of the Soviets. His microfilmed files were sold to U.S. intelligence for $5 million.
Considering that these files only contained material on Soviet military units that had long been disbanded or were no longer combat ready, Gehlen was very well paid for very cold coffee.
Since Gehlen had no experience with internal Soviet intelligence or with their foreign intelligence, he was hard-pressed to use his former army staff officers to supply the United Stateswith relevant material. In 1946, Gehlen hired Willi Krichbaum, formerly the deputy chief of the Gestapo, as his senior agent recruiter.
While Gehlen had no experience with Soviet spies, the Gestapo certainly did, and Krichbaum immediately sought out to hire many of his old associates.
At the same time, Krichbaum contacted his former chief, Heinrich Müller, formerly head of the Gestapo who was now a resident in Switzerland, and a respected and wealthy citizen.
Müller was, by no means, inactive in his enforced retirement and was in contact with Krichbaum almost from the beginning of his exile. Lengthy handwritten reports from Krichbaum to Müller spanning nearly three years exist and, while Müller’s correspondence to Krichbaum is not in his files, the Krichbaum correspondence indicates without a doubt, that “Gestapo” Müller was supplying his former deputy with reams of information on prospective employees for the new Gehlen organization, as well as a flood of concise directives on the structure necessary to implement the needs of the US intelligence.
In 1946, Gehlen began the construction of his new agency, while the Soviet military machine in the East Zone of Germany was in the process of downsizing. The Second World War had proven to be a terrible economic disaster to Stalin. His troops were in the process of dismantling German factories which were still intact, ripping up the railroad system, and sending their spoils back to Russia.
The American armed forces were also being sharply reduced, since the war in the Pacific had ended in 1945. Military units were disbanded and their soldiers returned to civilian life as quickly as possible. On the economic front, businesses that had enjoyed lucrative government military contracts found themselves with empty assembly lines and tens of thousands of laid off workers.
It has been said that there never was a good war nor a bad peace. While the latter was certainly beneficial to the Soviets and permitted them to rebuild their economy, it certainly was not beneficial for either the rapidly-shrinking military or business communities in the United States.
This situation permitted the development of the Gehlen organization and secured its position as a vital American political resource. The U.S. had virtually no military intelligence knowledge of the Soviet Union. But the Germans, who had fought against them for four years, had. Gehlen and his military staff only had knowledge of wartime Soviet military units which were either reduced to cadre or entirely disbanded. However, this was of no interest to the senior officials of U.S. intelligence. Gehlen was to become a brilliant intelligence specialist with an incredible grasp of Soviet abilities and intentions. This preeminence was almost entirely fictional. It was designed to elevate Gehlen in the eyes of American politicians including President Truman and members of Congress, and to lend well-orchestrated weight to the former General’s interpretation of his employer’s needs.
In 1948, Stalin sent troops into Czechoslovakia after a minority but efficient communist coup that overthrew the Western-oriented government. This act, in February of 1948, combined with the blockade of West Berlin, then occupied by the British, French and Americans in June of the same year, gave a group of senior American military leaders a heaven-sent opportunity to identify a new and dangerous military enemy—an enemy which could and would attack Western Europe and the United States in the immediate future.
To facilitate the acceptance of this theory, Gehlen was requested to produce intelligence material that would bolster it in as authoritative a manner as possible. This Gehlen did and to set the parameters of this report, Gehlen, General Stephen Chamberlain, Chief of Intelligence of the U.S. Army General Staff, and General Lucius D. Clay, U.S. commander in occupied Germany met in Berlin in February of 1948, immediately after the Czech occupation but before the blockade.
After this meeting, Gehlen drew up a lengthy and detailed intelligence report categorically stating that 135 fully-equipped Soviet divisions, many armored, were poised to attack. General Clay forwarded this alarming example of creative writing to Washington and followed up with frantic messages indicating his fear that the Soviets were about to launch an all-out land war on the United States.
Although the sequence of events might indicate that Clay was involved in an attempt to mislead U.S’ leaders, in actuality, he was misled by Chamberlain and Gehlen. They managed to thoroughly frighten General Clay and used him as a conduit to Washington. He was not the last to fall victim to the machinations of the war party.
The Gehlen papers were deliberately leaked to Congress and the President. This resulted in the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States. This was not a historical first by any means.
Elements in England at the beginning of the 20th century, alarmed at the growing economic threat of a united Germany, commenced a long public campaign designed to frighten the British public and their leaders into adopting a bellicose re-armament program based on a fictional German military threat.
Gehlen and his organization were considered vital to U.S. interests. As long as the General was able to feed the re-armament frenzy in Washington with supportive, inflammatory secret reports, then his success was assured.
The only drawback to this deadly farce was that the General did not have knowledge of current Soviet situations in the military or political fields. He could only bluff his way for a short time. To enhance his military staffs, Gehlen developed the use of former SS Sicherheitsdienst (SD) and Gestapo people, brought to him by Krichbaum, his chief recruiter.
At the same time, Krichbaum contacted his former chief, Heinrich Müller, former head of the Gestapo, who was now a resident in Switzerland, and a respected and wealthy citizen. Müller was, by no means, inactive in his enforced retirement and was in contact with Krichbaum almost from the beginning of his exile.
Lengthy handwritten reports from Krichbaum to Müller spanning nearly three years exist and, while Müller’s correspondence to Krichbaum is not in his files, the Krichbaum correspondence indicates without a doubt, that “Gestapo” Müller was supplying his former deputy with reams of information on prospective employees for the new Gehlen organization, as well as a flood of concise directives on the structure necessary to implement the needs of the US intelligence.
At the same time, a joint British-American project called “Operation Applepie” was launched with the sole purpose of locating and employing as many of the former Gestapo and SD types now being employed by Gehlen.
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, after all
In 1973, West German authorities issued a warrant for the arrest of Heinrich Müller, formerly head of the Gestapo, having good reason to believe that he did not die in Berlin in 1945.
That Heinrich Müller was hired by the CIA as an expert on Soviet intelligence is obviously not a subject the CIA wishes to have made public, their clumsy attempts to silence public comment on this is understandable.
Correspondence, in U.S. files, between German legal agencies and their U.S. counterparts indicates unhappiness, frustration and growing displeasure on the part of the Germans and classic stonewalling on the part of the Americans.
Portions of Müller’s U.S. CIC files now in Ft. Meade, Md, have been censored. None of the documents once refused to researchers deal with immediate postwar searches for Müller but cover a much later period. The reasons given for continued classification is that their release would adversely affect U.S. national security.
The extensive files of Heinrich Müller represent a treasure trove of historical material. The natural repository for such a collection should rightfully be an archive or institution where the entire body of documentation would be available to anyone wishing to conduct research. They are also a source of intense embarrassment for the CIA .
But the Müller papers and CIA secret documents, in private hands, are now being prepared for general publication and will be available to all and sundry, and the general attitude of senior archivists and CIA and BND officials is now one of dismay and fury.

The Encyclopedia of American Loons

Paul Thomas

There are lot of MDs in the US, so you’re bound to find a number of loons or grifters willing to throw their lot in with the anti-science crowds among them. Paul Thomas is a pediatrician with offices (“Integrative Pediatricians”) in the Portland, Oregon area, and he has thrown his lot in with the antivaxxers. Thomas is, for instance, a founding member of the antivaccine and general quackery-promoting group Physicians for Informed Consent, and was also one of the “experts” interviewed for the antivaccine series The Truth About Vaccines – it’s of course the same small number of people with genuine credentials they use every time since there is only a very small number of people with genuine credentials willing to lend their authority to the antivaccine movement – there’s a list of them here, and it is, safe to say, a motley crew. (And of course: being an MD is not the same as being trained in medical science even if it requires some knowledge of science, a distinction easily lost on a target audience who thinks reading facebook comments and conspiracy websites counts as research anyways.) But in short: Thomas is something of a rising star in the antivaccine movement (with inept journalists like Genevieve Reaume helping him along).
The ridiculous (but dangerous) group Physicians for Informed Consent is best known for trying to spread obvious fake news about vaccines and pushing manufactroversies about vaccine safety, a typical ploy being the familiar trick of misrepresenting studies to falsely make it sound like it supports the conclusion you want it to support while relying on the audience not actually checking or being able to check whether the source actually says what you claim it says. Of course, Physicians for Informed Consent is very much opposed to informed consent (hence the Orwellian trick of putting “informed consent” in the very name); instead, they are vigorously pushing misinformation and fear-mongering and (for instance) vigorously deleting any hint of criticism by those who actually know something about the issues from their comment sections. The goal of the group is to fight any proposal to restrict the use of vaccine exemptions for kids in public schools, and Thomas has established himself as one of the leaders of the loon side of those debates.
Of course, like most antivaccine advocates, Thomas claims to be “not anti-vaccine, but pro-safe vaccine”. For one who is not antivaccine, Thomas spends a lot of time claiming that vaccines are dangerous without evidence to back up his claims. Thomas claims that he, clearly unlike most doctors, don’t “really remember really learning anything” about vaccines in medical school, and it sort of shows, for instance in his book The Vaccine-Friendly Plan, which pushes a (really antivaccine) “alternative vaccine schedule” with no basis in evidence and that ultimately, of course, really involves dropping various vaccines. Thomas, on his side, seems to suggest that the schedule is associated with lower prevalence of autism among his patients, even though he usually seems smart enough not to outright claim that vaccination leads to autism, which it demonstrably doesn’t – we don’t doubt that many of his clients believe that it does, however, and Thomas is certainly not going to disabuse them of that idea. Apparently his office has some 15,000 patients and he oversees eight doctors and nurses who share his beliefs. And ok, in his book he explicitly states that he once “realized we had poisoned a generation of children with a mercury-derived preservative called thimerosal”, which doesn’t count as a “realization”, before going on to talk about how kids are overvaccinated, and though he does, in fairness, not explicitly connect the dots to autism, he also talks about the alleged though non-existent autism epidemic, downplays the risks of vaccine-preventable diseases and claims that the polio vaccine didn’t eradicate polio in the US, which it demonstrably did and it would be utterly idiotic to try to claim otherwise.
Unsurprisingly, Thomas likes to be portrayed as a brave, principled maverick doctor being persecuted by the establishment. In August 2019, for instance, Thomas was kicked out of the Vaccines for Children Program because he failed to stock two of the required vaccines (rotavirus and HPV) and was, according to the Oregon Health Authority, “not exercising medical judgment in accordance with accepted medical practice.” His response involved, predictably, to suggest – falsely as always – that doctors administer vaccines in part because there is a lot of money in it (there really, really isn’t – there is, however, quite a bit of money involved in writing non-medical exemptions, which, in places without restrictions, don’t cost antivaccine doctors anything, and in selling books and webinars that stoke parents’ concerns about vaccines).
The lies Thomas told in the Truth About Vaccines interview, including his attempt to scare audiences by telling them that the AAP does not investigate vaccine safety (ok, that’s technically true since the AAP is a professional organization: its members study vaccine safety, however) and his claim that doctors cause grave injury to children by vaccination, but are not interested in learning why or how. He also invokes the “science was wrong before” gambit by bringing up to the how doctors were promoting cigarettes in the 1950s, implying that vaccines are similarly waiting for studies to be done on them – a notoriously silly gambit in part because i) there are ample studies on vaccines and vaccine safety, ii) science and doctors knew quite a bit about the dangers of smoking in the 1950s, and iii) would therefore not promote cigarettes: the “doctors” in those old ads are actors, not doctors, except perhaps – ironically – for a few “brave maverick doctors” not willing to base their recommendations on accepted science but going their own ways. Of course, Thomas doesn’t really have a clear idea what the state of the science on vaccines actually is, something he amply demonstrates on the show by rambling about how doctors don’t know how to identify vaccine reactions and saying that no one has looked at whether unvaccinated kids have febrile seizures or die of SIDS (in reality, studies show that vaccines significantly reduce the risk of SIDS – Thomas would of course not be aware of that – and SIDS rates in the US are at an all-time low partially as a result.)
As his book makes clear, Thomas isn’t just worried about vaccines, however. He is also worried about Tylenol, that the chemicals in plastics are endocrine disruptors, GMOs, flame retardants, pesticides, fluoride, artificial sweeteners, chemical dyes, and all of the other “toxins” that other doctors and the CDC supposedly ignore. But does he have the science to back up his fear-mongering? Well, he does a bit of cherry-picking, and concludes that there is “a growing body of evidence,” which it certainly looks like as long as people continue to publish outliers and you refuse to look at the trends established by large, well-designed studies and the metastudies that support the opposite conclusions. It is also worth noting that many of Thomas’s patients show sensitivity to gluten. This is, of course, because Thomas uses an IgG food sensitivity test that experts say is basically worthless.
His book is fairly and accurately reviewed here. There is another, comprehensive review here (short version: “Dr. Thomas has no relevant expertise in immunology or infectious disease to be making such recommendations, and it shows.”) Note in particular Thomas’s advice to pregnant women and new mothers, advice that are likely to cause deaths and serious harm if followed. And yes, it’s all couched in terms of one big toxins gambit with numerous appeals to chemophobia (“The Injectable Polio Vaccine (Ipol) contains formaldehyde, along with a host of other ingredients you probably wouldn’t want to inject into an infant with an immature immune system, including: human albumin, calf serum, 2-phenoxyethanol and antibiotics”).
Now, Thomas does seem to fancy himself a bit of a researcher, even if he really has no clue how scientific research works. The last few years he has been claiming to be running a study based on his own practice and “trying to get his data published,” which basically is him just registering what he wants to register about his own patients and is not a study by a long shot (here is a more detailed discussion of his “data”). His “research” partner appears to be antivaccine crank James Lyon-Weiler, with whom Thomas has also written a pretty inept “study” (no original research) demonizing aluminum adjuvants, published in the antivaccine-friendly junk journal Journal of Trace Elements in Biology and Medicine; that study is discussed here. (We will also take note of the coauthors, Grant McFarland and Elaine La Joie, neither of whom have any expertise in epidemiology, immunology, infectious disease, and epidemiology, though La Joie is at least “a certified life coach, and has a shamanic work practice”.)
Diagnosis: “Rising star in the antivaccine movement” should be diagnosis enough, shouldn’t it?

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