web analytics
a

Facebook

Twitter

Copyright 2015 Libero Themes.
All Rights Reserved.

8:30 - 6:00

Our Office Hours Mon. - Fri.

703-406-7616

Call For Free 15/M Consultation

Facebook

Twitter

Search
Menu
Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Trump, Donald J" (Page 59)

Pentagon to Divert Money From 127 Projects to Pay for Trump’s Border Wall

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon will delay or suspend 127 military construction projects so that $3.6 billion can be diverted to shore up President Trump’s border wall, Defense Department officials said Tuesday.

Pentagon officials on Tuesday began notifying congressional representatives from areas that house the affected projects, and the decision to divert the funding prompted outcry from Democrats over what they viewed as a violation of Congress’s authority to set spending.

The move is part of President Trump’s declaration in February of a national emergency in order to gain access to billions of dollars that Congress refused to give him to build a wall along the border with Mexico. After losing a battle with lawmakers over that funding — a fight that led to a partial government shutdown — the president argued that the flow of drugs, criminals and illegal immigrants from Mexico constitutes a national security threat that justified using the military without specific approval from lawmakers.

Defense Department officials declined to publicly identify the affected projects until lawmakers had been notified, but they said that about half of the $3.6 billion would be taken from planned military construction projects overseas. The remainder would come from planned projects in the United States.

The United States Military Academy at West Point is one such project, said Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader. In a statement, he called the decision “a slap in the face to the members of the armed forces who serve our country that President Trump is willing to cannibalize already allocated military funding to boost his own ego and for a wall he promised Mexico would pay to build.”

Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper signed off on the diversion of funds, his aides said. In a letter sent to lawmakers that was obtained by The New York Times, he identified 11 projects that the money would go toward, including new construction and some fencing replacement along the southwestern border.

The projects would span Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, with the largest amount of new pedestrian fencing — about 52 miles — slated for Laredo, Tex., along the Rio Grande. And while Mr. Esper did not use the word “wall” in the letter, it is likely to serve as evidence for both the president and his re-election campaign that he is upholding his promise to build one.

Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper’s letter to lawmakers

In a letter that was obtained by The New York Times, Mr. Esper identified 11 projects that the money would go toward, including new construction and some fencing replacement along the southwestern border.

Westlake Legal Group thumbnail Pentagon to Divert Money From 127 Projects to Pay for Trump’s Border Wall United States Politics and Government United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Texas Schumer, Charles E Esper, Mark T Democratic Party Defense Department Defense and Military Forces   3 pages, 0.54 MB

The projects, Mr. Esper wrote, will reduce the demand for “personnel and assets at the locations where the barriers are constructed and allow the redeployment of D.o.D. personnel and assets to other high-traffic areas.”

While Mr. Esper did not detail which military construction initiatives would lose funding, he said in the letter that the money would not be taken from any family housing, barracks or dormitory projects.

Since Mr. Trump’s emergency declaration, the Defense Department had been examining an expansive $12.9 billion list of projects in nearly all 50 states and more than two dozen countries where American troops are stationed.

Department officials insisted on Tuesday that the military construction projects were only being delayed, not canceled. But regaining money for those projects will be up to Congress, which would have to approve new money to fund them, something that Democrats who control the House are loath to do.

“My view of it is that stealing money from military construction, at home and abroad, will undermine our national security, quality of life and morale of our troops, and that indeed makes America less safe,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California told members of her caucus on a private call on Tuesday, according to a Democratic official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to publicly discuss a private phone call.

Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Democrat of Florida, who leads the House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees military construction, said on the same call that the committee would continue to resist replacing the diverted funds, according to the Democratic official.

“Every project that has been affected has gone through a rigorous multiyear review of the appropriateness and necessity of the construction process,” said Representative John Garamendi, Democrat of California, who oversees the House Armed Services Readiness Subcommittee. In an interview, he said he had not yet spoken with Mr. Esper, but warned “it will not be a pleasant conversation for him.”

Democrats on the Senate Appropriations Committee, in a letter to Mr. Esper on Tuesday night, demanded more information about how the decision was made and “why a border wall is more important to our national security and the well-being of our service members and their families than these projects.”

Several groups have challenged the Trump administration over the president’s efforts to divert funding for the wall. But in July, the Supreme Court gave Mr. Trump a victory in a separate but related case, overturning an appellate decision and ruling that the administration could tap money to proceed with wall construction while the matter proceeds. The court said the groups challenging the administration did not appear to have a legal right to do so, in an indication that the court’s conservative majority is likely to side with the administration in the end.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

‘Business as Normal’: Pence’s Stay at Trump Hotel in Ireland Follows a Trend

WASHINGTON — Vice President Mike Pence departed his hotel overlooking stunning vistas of the Atlantic Ocean just before 8:30 a.m. Tuesday for his official visit with Michael D. Higgins, the president of Ireland. It would be quite some time before he got there.

There was the hourlong motorcade to the airport in Shannon, where he arrived at 9:30 a.m. Then the flight to Dublin, where Air Force Two landed at 10:29 a.m., and finally a short drive to Aras an Uachtarain, the presidential residence, and his meet-and-greet with Mr. Higgins, which started at 11:11 a.m.

The lengthy commute was necessary because of Mr. Pence’s choice of hotel: Rather than spending Monday night in Dublin, the vice president stayed 181 miles away by car on the other side of Ireland — at the Trump International Golf Links & Hotel in Doonbeg. The person who suggested he stay there was the hotel’s owner himself, President Trump.

“I don’t think it was a request, like a command,” Marc Short, Mr. Pence’s chief of staff, told reporters traveling with the vice president. “I think that it was a suggestion.”

And so Mr. Pence became part of a well-established trend among prominent Republicans, who since Mr. Trump rose to lead his party have become regular customers at his establishments. In total, nearly $20 million has been spent at the Trump family hotels since 2015 by various mostly Republican political groups, including Mr. Trump’s own political committees, according to a tally by the Center for Responsive Politics.

Mr. Pence’s stay at the Trump hotel — which bills itself as “a new generation of style and service” — may have been the highest-profile example of a member of Mr. Trump’s inner circle patronizing one of the president’s businesses. But it was far from the first time that a top American official in Mr. Trump’s administration had picked one of the president’s hotels when needing a place to stay or to be seen.

Over all, at least 24 of the 32 individuals who have served in Mr. Trump’s cabinet and 26 of the 53 Republicans in the Senate have been spotted at or spent money at Trump International Hotel in Washington, according to a tally maintained by Zach Everson, who tracks visits to the hotel by foreign dignitaries, members of Congress and other Republicans.

“In a way it is business as normal,” said Mr. Everson, whose newsletter, called 1100 Pennsylvania, examines patronage by the politically connected at the hotel in Washington. “This is the way Republicans are supporting the president, by supporting his businesses.”

Mr. Pence has family roots in Doonbeg, and the president suggested his hotel when he heard that the vice president was traveling there. “It’s like when we went through the trip, it’s like, ‘Well, he’s going to Doonbeg because that’s where the Pence family is from,’” Mr. Short said. “It’s like, ‘Well, you should stay at my place.’”

Mr. Short said the vice president was personally covering the expenses of his wife, his mother and his sister, who are traveling with him. Still, the coterie of Secret Service personnel and other members of Mr. Pence’s traveling party staying there will mean a substantial bill paid by taxpayers — with some of that going to Mr. Trump’s hotel.

Mr. Pence, whose office said the hotel stay “was solely a decision by the Office of the Vice President,” played down any criticisms when reporters asked about it between meetings during his trip.

“I understand political attacks by Democrats, but if you have a chance to get to Doonbeg, you’ll find it’s a fairly small place and the opportunity to stay at the Trump National in Doonbeg, to accommodate the unique footprint that comes with our security detail and other personnel, made it logical,” Mr. Pence said.

Westlake Legal Group tracking-trumps-visits-to-his-branded-properties-1491411297460-thumbLarge ‘Business as Normal’: Pence’s Stay at Trump Hotel in Ireland Follows a Trend United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Politics and Government Pence, Mike ireland Hotels and Travel Lodgings

Tracking the President’s Visits to Trump Properties

Ethics experts say Donald J. Trump’s visits to properties owned, managed or branded by the Trump Organization amount to free publicity for the company and blur the line between his family business and presidential duties.

But for Mr. Pence, the visit to Doonbeg was only the most recent instance in which he or his relatives have patronized Mr. Trump’s businesses.

His Great America Committee has spent more than $225,000 at Trump International Hotel in Washington since 2017, one of the largest vendor expenditures for the political committee. Great America Committee has also recently spent money at the Trump National Golf Club in Virginia, Federal Election Commission records show.

Greg Pence, the vice president’s brother and an Indiana congressman, is another big spender at Trump International, paying more than $45,000 worth of bills at the hotel since 2017.

As of last weekend, Mr. Trump himself had visited one of his family-owned properties on at least 293 days, or just over 30 percent of the days he has been in office. His most frequent destinations are his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida and Trump golf courses in New Jersey and Virginia. And he has spent three days at Doonbeg since he took office.

“I have a very warm spot for Doonbeg, I will tell you that,” Mr. Trump said in March during an Oval Office visit by Prime Minister Leo Varadkar of Ireland. “And it’s just a great place. Really, a great place.”

The president spoke with equal enthusiasm about another of his hotels, Trump National Doral, near Miami, at the recent Group of 7 summit in France. Mr. Trump suggested that he might host next year’s meeting at the hotel.

“I think having it in Miami is fantastic,” Mr. Trump said last week. “Really fantastic. Having it at that particular place, because of the way it’s set up, each country can have their own villa, or their own bungalow. And the bungalows, when I say, they have a lot of units in them. So I think it just works out well.”

The House Judiciary Committee has already announced that it intends to investigate how Mr. Trump appears to be driving business to his family operations. “The president’s personal financial interests are clearly shaping decisions about official U.S. government activities,” Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York and the panel’s chairman, said after Mr. Trump disclosed that he hoped to host the G7 event at Trump Doral.

Legal scholars have also questioned whether Mr. Trump’s actions — urging the vice president to stay at Doonbeg — might violate the so-called emoluments clauses of the Constitution. Presidents are prohibited from accepting any payment from the federal or state government, beyond their federal salary. But most of the focus related to that provision has to do with foreign governments making payments to Mr. Trump, by staying at a hotel.

Still, the patronage by the president and Republican Party leaders of Trump-owned properties comes as the Trump hotels have struggled on their own, annual financial disclosure reports by Mr. Trump suggest. Overall revenues at Trump-branded hotels in Chicago, Florida and Hawaii have lagged behind the hotel markets in those areas, in part hotel industry consultants said, because of damage to the brand Mr. Trump has caused during his tenure in the White House.

The Doonbeg hotel and golf course generated $14.5 million in revenue for the Trump Organization last year, according to Mr. Trump’s annual financial disclosure, up 2 percent from 2017.

Mr. Pence’s visit to Ireland was originally scheduled to be the last leg of a European trip. But the schedule was rejiggered after Mr. Trump directed Mr. Pence to stand in for him as an emissary on an official trip to Poland after the president canceled, citing the need to monitor Hurricane Dorian. On Thursday, Mr. Pence is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Boris Johnson in London.

On Tuesday, Mr. Pence boarded Air Force Two just before 5 p.m. for the two-and-a-half-hour trip back to Doonbeg, where he was scheduled to have dinner with a distant cousin at Morrissey’s Pub, down the road from Mr. Trump’s golf club.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Trump Says China Will Suffer as Data Shows Trade War Hurting U.S.

WASHINGTON — President Trump said on Tuesday that Chinese manufacturing would “crumble” if the country did not agree to the United States’ trade terms, as newly released data showed his trade war was washing back to American shores and hurting the factories that the president has aimed to protect.

Days after new tariffs went into effect on both sides of the Pacific, a closely watched index of American manufacturing activity fell to 49.1 from 51.2, signaling a contraction in United States factory activity for the first time since 2016. The companies responding to the Institute for Supply Management survey, which the index is based on, cited shrinking export orders as a result of the trade dispute, as well as the challenge of moving supply chains out of China to avoid the tariffs.

The manufacturing sector’s struggles are likely to increase as the world’s two largest economies continue to escalate their trade fight. On Sunday, Mr. Trump placed a new 15 percent tariff on a range of consumer goods, including clothing, lawn mowers, sewing machines, food and jewelry, and Beijing retaliated by increasing tariffs on $75 billion worth of American products. China also said on Monday that it was filing a complaint at the World Trade Organization over Mr. Trump’s new tariffs.

Markets sank on weaker economic news and worries about the trade war. The S&P 500 was down about 0.9 percent, with particular weakness in industrial and energy stocks.

Prices of key industrial commodities were also lower, with futures prices for benchmark American crude oil down roughly 3 percent. Copper, considered a barometer of the health of the global industrial sector, was down a bit less than 1 percent.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note declined to 1.45 percent, as jittery investors continued to buy government bonds, pushing prices up and yields lower. The drop in bond yields this year — the yield on the 10-year note was above 3 percent in late 2018 — suggests a broad-based cut in expectations for economic growth among investors.

“The U.S. trade war with the world has blown open a great big hole in manufacturers’ confidence,” Chris Rupkey, the chief financial economist at MUFG Union Bank, wrote in a note on Tuesday. “The manufacturing sector has officially turned down and is falling for the first time this year as the China tariffs and slowdown in exports has really started to bite.”

The president has continued to insist that pain from the trade war is falling primarily on China, not the United States. On Friday, he said American companies were leaving China in response to his tariffs, a development that put the United States in an “incredible negotiating position.” And he said any business that complained about financial pain from the tariffs was suffering from bad management, not the trade war.

On Tuesday, he warned Beijing not to try to wait for a new administration to come into office after the 2020 election, saying China’s supply chain “will crumble” and that it would be “a long time to be hemorrhaging jobs and companies on a long-shot.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_160052838_9c452f4a-52c9-4084-aa85-0dd73052a814-articleLarge Trump Says China Will Suffer as Data Shows Trade War Hurting U.S. United States Politics and Government United States Economy Trump, Donald J Politics and Government International Trade and World Market Institute for Supply Management Federal Taxes (US) Factories and Manufacturing Customs (Tariff) China Agriculture and Farming

President Trump imposed a new round of tariffs on Chinese goods on Sunday and has threatened additional increases.CreditSamuel Corum for The New York Times

Many chief executives and trade groups say they support the president’s goal of changing China’s economic practices, particularly those that require businesses to hand over valuable technology as a condition of operating in China. But businesses have begun to express concern about the seemingly unending trade war. Many big companies, particularly those in the retail and manufacturing sectors, have downgraded sales and profit forecasts as a result of the tariffs.

The trade war’s potential to slow America’s economic expansion, including its impact on the manufacturing sector, has already prompted concern from Federal Reserve officials. The Fed cut rates for the first time in more than a decade in July and officials have said they’re prepared to cut further to protect the economy against fallout from slowing global growth and trade risks.

Even some officials who did not vote in favor of July’s rate cut say economic risks have increased.

Eric Rosengren, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and a monetary policy voter this year, indicated that he still favors waiting and watching incoming economic data before making interest rate cuts beyond the July move, which he voted against.

But he also said it is “clearly reasonable” to judge that risks to the economy are elevated, and “should those risks become a reality, the appropriate monetary policy would be to ease aggressively,” suggesting that he might favor rapid interest rate cuts if economic data soured meaningfully.

The Trump administration has been pressuring China for more than two years to make a trade deal that would strengthen its protections for American intellectual property and result in large purchases of American products. But the two sides continue to have significant disagreements, including which of Mr. Trump’s tariffs should be rolled back and what kind of legal changes China must make to treat American companies more fairly.

Since talks between the two countries stalled in May, Mr. Trump has moved ahead with his threat to tax nearly everything China sends to the United States. On Sunday, the Trump administration placed a 15 percent levy on roughly $112 billion worth of Chinese goods and plans to place tariffs on roughly $160 billion worth of cellphones, laptops, clothing and toys on Dec. 15. Mr. Trump has also said the United States will raise tariffs on $250 billion worth of products to 30 percent from 25 percent on Oct. 1.

China has vowed to retaliate on Dec. 15 with more tariffs of its own.

While a deal appears far from certain, the two sides could still avert the increases and declare another cease-fire. The United States and China have discussed a meeting in Washington in September, and American and Chinese officials will both be present on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York later in the month.

Myron Brilliant, the executive vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said the two governments would have to work to restore some trust before any conclusion to the trade war would be reached — perhaps through Chinese purchases of American agricultural goods, something Mr. Trump has long focused on.

“There’s a trust deficit between the two governments,” he said. “We need steppingstones to build confidence in the relationship so both governments are positioned to get a deal down the road.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Pence Staying at Trump Property in Ireland at Trump’s ‘Suggestion,’ Aide Says

Westlake Legal Group 03dc-pence-facebookJumbo Pence Staying at Trump Property in Ireland at Trump’s ‘Suggestion,’ Aide Says United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Politics and Government Pence, Mike ireland Hotels and Travel Lodgings

WASHINGTON — On the last leg of a European trip, Vice President Mike Pence is scheduled for two days of meetings in Dublin, but he is staying on the other side of Ireland in Doonbeg at a private golf club owned by President Trump.

It was Mr. Trump who made the “suggestion” that Mr. Pence, his family and his entourage stay at the Trump International Golf Links & Hotel Doonbeg, Marc Short, an aide to Mr. Pence, said on Tuesday.

Mr. Pence has family roots in Doonbeg and is traveling with his wife, his mother and his sister. They were originally set to end their trip in Doonbeg, but the schedule was rejiggered after Mr. Trump directed Mr. Pence to stand in for him as an emissary on an official trip to Poland. On Thursday, Mr. Pence is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Boris Johnson in London.

Mr. Trump canceled his Poland trip, citing the need to monitor Hurricane Dorian. He also traveled to his Virginia golf course throughout the weekend, and was spotted playing a round on Monday.

Mr. Short said in an interview that Mr. Pence was personally covering his family’s expenses at Doonbeg. Still, the coterie of Secret Service and other members of the vice president’s traveling party staying there will mean a substantial bill paid by taxpayers.

“I don’t think it was a request, like a command,” Mr. Short told reporters traveling with the vice president. “I think that it was a suggestion.”

He added: “It’s like when we went through the trip, it’s like, well, he’s going to Doonbeg because that’s where the Pence family is from. It’s like, ‘Well, you should stay at my place.’”

Mr. Short said that Doonbeg was the one venue that could accommodate the Secret Service, which protected the club this year when Mr. Trump stayed there on an official visit to Ireland.

Since he took office, Mr. Trump has repeatedly blended his private business with government expenditures. Republicans and the president’s campaign have held fund-raisers at the Trump International Hotel in Washington. His clubs make money from taxpayers when the Secret Service and government officials stay there. And during the transition period, the inaugural committee — which was funded by private dollars — spent $1.5 million at the Trump hotel in Washington.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Manchin Won’t Run for West Virginia Governor; Will Stay in Senate

Westlake Legal Group 03dc-manchin-facebookJumbo Manchin Won’t Run for West Virginia Governor; Will Stay in Senate west virginia Trump, Donald J Senate Politics and Government Manchin, Joe III Elections, Senate Democratic Party

WASHINGTON — Senator Joe Manchin III announced Tuesday that he will not run for governor in his home state of West Virginia, ending speculation about the future of one of the Senate’s few moderate Democrats.

“Those who know me know how much I loved being the governor of West Virginia,” Mr. Manchin said in a statement. “I worked the daylights out of that job. I couldn’t wait to wake up in the Governor’s Mansion in the morning, and I didn’t want to go to bed at night, because there was always more that I could do for our state.”

But he said he could not make a decision based on what job he liked most, but rather on where he could be most useful. “Ultimately, I believe my role as U.S. senator allows me to position our state for success for the rest of this century,” he said, by working on issues like jobs, energy and the environment.

Mr. Manchin, who served as governor from 2001 to 2005, has made no secret of his dislike for the Senate. At the outset of 2018, he was flirting with retirement, and had repeatedly expressed his frustration to Senator Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader, telling him at one point, “this place sucks.” He has long said he preferred being governor.

Mr. Manchin has also been extremely critical of Gov. Jim Justice of West Virginia, a Trump-like Republican who ran as a Democrat but later switched parties at Mr. Trump’s urging. Last year, Mr. Justice fired Mr. Manchin’s wife, Gayle, from her position as West Virginia Secretary for Education and the Arts.

The decision announced Tuesday was so last minute that Mr. Manchin’s communications director, Jonathan Kott, said he wrote up two statements — and so secretive that Mr. Kott did not know before the announcement which one Mr. Manchin would use.

Mr. Manchin is a rare breed in the Senate: a moderate Democrat, the only one outside of Senator Doug Jones of Alabama. When he won re-election in 2018, he was the sole survivor of a trio of incumbent moderates who were running that year. Two others — Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota — lost their races.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

President Trump, Weatherman: Dorian Updates and at Least 122 Tweets

Westlake Legal Group merlin_160056105_e2af8520-c43d-46fd-8e62-67dc89b7011a-facebookJumbo President Trump, Weatherman: Dorian Updates and at Least 122 Tweets United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Hurricanes and Tropical Storms Hurricane Dorian (2019)

WASHINGTON — Over the long weekend, President Trump monitored Hurricane Dorian from a golf cart at his club in Virginia, calling for regular updates from an aide trailing him around the course. By 8 p.m. Monday, as Dorian churned toward Florida and Mr. Trump’s boarded-up Mar-a-Lago resort, the president had golfed twice and since Saturday morning pelted the American public with 122 tweets.

As he has done during other hurricanes, Mr. Trump awaited landfall by assuming the role of meteorologist-in-chief, adding weatherman-style updates to a usual weekend routine of attacking his enemies, retweeting bits of praise and critiquing the performance of his cable news allies.

Starting with his first weekend tweet at 7:45 a.m. Saturday, Mr. Trump’s Dorian-related tweets were delivered with the speed of a hailstorm. His two messages about a mass shooting in Texas on Saturday, for example, quickly sank to the bottom of a murky Twitter morass clogged with presidential forecasts.

With his reality-show approach to the presidency, Mr. Trump has a habit of weighing in on the day’s most-covered news stories with his own running commentary. As Dorian approached, Mr. Trump switched into town-crier mode, updating the public on what he had learned — or, what he thought he’d learned — from government officials as Dorian threatened the coast of the state of Florida, where he has owned property for decades.

“In addition to Florida — South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama, will most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated,” Mr. Trump wrote in a tweet shortly after departing Camp David for Washington on Sunday morning. “Looking like one of the largest hurricanes ever. Already category 5. BE CAREFUL! GOD BLESS EVERYONE!”

Mr. Trump’s commentary on the hurricane was not wholly accurate. The National Weather Service quickly walked back one of his assertions: “We repeat, no impacts from Hurricane Dorian will be felt across Alabama,” officials said on Twitter.

Always eager to have the last word, Mr. Trump on Monday attacked an ABC reporter who said the president had wrongly inserted Alabama in the list of states.

“Always good to be prepared!” Mr. Trump wrote by way of explanation.

But the president’s concern for Florida, a state of political and personal importance to him, did not seem to waver going into the weekend. On Friday, he took questions from reporters about the ability of Mar-a-Lago, his Palm Beach, Fla., estate, to withstand the winds.

“Yeah, it would look like Mar-a-Lago is dead center,” Mr. Trump said. “But, look, Mar-a-Lago can handle itself. That’s a very powerful place.”

As Dorian grew in size and strength, Mr. Trump appeared to marvel at the storm’s sheer capacity for devastation: “Being hit like never before, Category 5. Almost 200 MPH winds,” the president tweeted on Sunday. Earlier, during a hurricane briefing at the Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters, Mr. Trump expressed disbelief bordering on reverence for Dorian’s Category 5 status, the highest degree measured by meteorologists on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale.

“A Category 5 is something that I don’t know that I’ve even heard the term, other than I know it’s there. That’s the ultimate.”

Curiously, Mr. Trump has claimed before that neither he nor weather experts had ever heard of or experienced a Category 5. He was speaking specifically about Hurricane Irma in Florida and Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, both in September 2017, and both classified as Category 5.

The Capital Weather Gang, a group of weather experts at The Washington Post, took issue on Monday with Mr. Trump’s remarks.

“Although it might seem like a harmless curiosity or blind spot, Trump’s self-professed ignorance of Category 5 monsters could slow the government’s response to such disasters,” an editor, Andrew Freedman, wrote, “or contribute to confusion at the highest levels of government as well as among people in harm’s way.”

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday about Mr. Trump’s knowledge of Category 5 storms, or about Mr. Trump’s preparation efforts in general.

Mr. Trump, like other occupants of the Oval Office, appears to understand that national weather catastrophes demand White House attention and can damage a presidency if not handled well. Julian E. Zelizer, a presidential historian, pointed out that presidents have generally fallen into two categories: those who can transcend politics to speak to an entire nation when a storm threatens, and those who have foundered.

Mr. Zelizer said that President Lyndon B. Johnson had set a modern precedent for storm response in 1964 when he visited with victims of Hurricane Betsy, a Category 4 storm that killed 75 people in New Orleans. Stunned by what he saw on the ground, and declaring that “red tape be cut,” Mr. Johnson personally oversaw the recovery operation.

President George W. Bush, on the other hand, called criticism of his administration’s slow-moving response to Hurricane Katrina, a Category 5 storm that killed more than 1,833 people in New Orleans, one of the worst moments of his presidency.

“Trump is a different category,” Mr. Zelizer said in an interview, “in that it’s not even that he’s not doing enough or the right thing. It’s almost as if he doesn’t want this role at all, and he has no interest in stopping his traditional, normal tweet storms.”

True to form, Mr. Trump created his own mini-tsumani of content as the storm drew nearer. Inside the White House, Mr. Trump’s aides say that this behavior represents an accessible, transparent and interested president using his platform to send important updates directly to the American people.

But then there’s what that actually looks like in practice: dozens of updates about the storm, both in person and on Twitter, but mixed in with comments about the trade war with China, his annoyance with the actress Debra Messing and ever more complaints about the F.B.I. director he fired, James Comey.

In several of his updates, Mr. Trump personally assured the communities in several states vulnerable to Hurricane Dorian that help would be on the way should they need it.

In the days before Dorian made landfall, Mr. Trump filmed and distributed a video from the White House Rose Garden in which he again remarked on the size and strength of the storm. The video continued a tradition from last September, when Mr. Trump decided to comment on Hurricane Florence as the storm approached the Carolinas.

In a video, he called that storm, a Category 4, “one of the wettest we’ve ever seen, from the standpoint of water.”

This time, his commentary on Dorian — which he called an “absolute monster” — was similarly matter-of-fact and very nearly awe-struck.

“It may be that you’re going to evacuate,” Mr. Trump said into the camera as images of the storm were interspersed into the video. “We’re going to see what happens. We’re waiting. It does seem almost certain that it’s hitting dead center.”

He paused before continuing with his forecast: “And that’s not good.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

In Republican-Leaning Districts, Lawmakers Shy Away From Broaching Impeachment

HOWELL, Mich. — The message printed on a pair of handmade wood-and-cardboard placards could not have been clearer as Representative Elissa Slotkin gazed out on a crowd of about 300 of her constituents who gathered for a town hall-style meeting to discuss their biggest concerns: “IMPEACHMENT INQUIRY NOW.”

“I just want her to know that some of her constituents are there,” said Patricia Onelio, 61, who staked out seats with her husband in the front row, determined for their demands to be seen by their congresswoman, a Democrat in a Republican-leaning district who has resisted calls to impeach President Trump. “He gets more emboldened by the minute, so I just think it’s important for us to show up and let her know where we stand.”

Here in this town about an hour northwest of Detroit that Mr. Trump carried by seven points in 2016, and in similar districts throughout the country where Democratic victories last year handed the party control of the House, lawmakers like Ms. Slotkin hardly need the reminder.

But while attendees had scrawled enough questions about impeachment on the index cards provided that the moderator immediately raised the topic, and returned to it a second time, there was little pushback to Ms. Slotkin’s wait-and-see approach.

“I want to be very honest, that I believe impeachment is a very big step — I believe it is something that should not be taken lightly — and it has to be something where we bring people along,” she said. If the Trump administration fails to respond to the many subpoenas that have been issued by the Judiciary Committee, she added, “we may be in a different world.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_159897885_ec4ee834-1cd0-4aec-b4f8-0f884a75c4e8-articleLarge In Republican-Leaning Districts, Lawmakers Shy Away From Broaching Impeachment United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Senate Pelosi, Nancy impeachment Horn, Kendra Elections, House of Representatives

Ms. Slotkin’s constituents brought signs that read, in all capital letters, “Impeachment Inquiry Now.”CreditBrittany Greeson for The New York Times

Despite the efforts of pro-impeachment activist groups to transform August into a Tea Party-style series of grass-roots revolts that might force Democrats of all stripes to throw their support behind impeachment, the groundswell has yet to reach this politically crucial group of lawmakers in Republican-leaning districts. Instead, they are staying cautious and, in some cases, even trying to avoid mentioning the word, and many of their constituents — even impeachment supporters — appear willing, at least for now, to tolerate that reluctance.

In more than two dozen interviews in districts like these in three states over the past week, some voters said they wished their representative in Congress would hurry up and endorse an impeachment inquiry in order to send an unmistakable signal that Mr. Trump’s actions were illegal and unacceptable. But most were either strongly opposed or said they understood the reluctance to set the process in motion, given the degree to which it could divide the country, the likelihood of failure given Republican control of the Senate and the political stakes for their representatives if they backed it.

“The main issue is letting it play out in the 2020 election,” said Blaise Molitoris, Ms. Onelio’s sign-toting husband, who called Ms. Slotkin’s circumspection“fair” and said he understood her stance despite his own eagerness to see Mr. Trump impeached. “It’s not good for the country — just the divisiveness — but leaving it as is and not holding the president accountable for his actions just can’t stand in my book.”

To be sure, many Democrats in districts around the country have confronted strident calls from constituents over their six-week August vacation to endorse impeachment, and some of them have heeded the message. One hundred and thirty Democrats now support impeaching Mr. Trump, a number that has grown in the weeks since the recess began. A coalition of progressive groups has mounted a campaign — called “Impeachment August” — to use the break to try to win over converts, texting 280,000 constituents in more than 70 congressional districts to notify them about lawmakers’ events and encourage constituents to show up and demand it.

At an event near Pittsburgh, constituents pressed Representative Conor Lamb about impeaching Mr. Trump, asking why he was “lagging behind” his colleagues on the issue, according to a report by the local NPR affiliate. Representative Andy Kim was heckled during a gathering last month in Riverside, N.J., with shouts of “Do your job” and “Why’s it taking so long — I want him gone!” according to local news reports.

In an interview after an event in Forked River, N.J., Representative Andy Kim, Democrat of New Jersey, was careful never to utter the word “impeachment” even as he was asked about it.CreditBryan Anselm for The New York Times

But in an interview last week, Mr. Kim said he was hearing far more from his constituents about gun safety, the economy and health care as well as local issues. During a 90-minute town hall-style meeting Thursday evening that Mr. Kim held in a middle school cafeteria in Forked River, attendees stuck to the topic advertised — the dismantling of a nearby nuclear plant, which has generated controversy among residents — and there was not a single question or interruption about impeachment.

“These are not issues that can wait till the next election; I mean, this is happening right now,” Mr. Kim said in an interview after the session, careful never to utter the word “impeachment” even as he was asked about it. “I’ve seen what happens when we have just massive gridlock in Washington, and how it just paralyzes everything else that we do. So, you know, I worry about that side of things. I want to make sure we can keep delivering on health care and other issues.”

Activists who showed up with signs supporting the Democratic plan for a single-payer, government-backed health care system known as “Medicare for All” said they also favored impeaching the president. But they had not come to bend Mr. Kim’s ear on that.

“My point of view is Medicare for all and the Green New Deal are 10 times more important,” said Tom Cannavo, 59, a retired prosecutor from Beachwood, N.J.

It is a sentiment that resonates with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has staunchly refused to rush into an impeachment proceeding she says neither Congress nor the country is ready to pursue, in part out of concern for the political fortunes of lawmakers in districts like these whose constituents are not clamoring for the move. In a conference call with her caucus in recent weeks, Ms. Pelosi said the public “isn’t there on impeachment,” adding that Democrats have to balance “our responsibility to protect and defend the Constitution, and to be unifying and not dividing.”

Representative Kendra Horn, Democrat of Oklahoma, at a town hall-style meeting last week, faced questions about veterans’ issues and pharmaceutical costs rather than impeachment.CreditJoseph Rushmore for The New York Times

In Oklahoma City, where voters helped elect Representative Kendra Horn as the first Democrat to represent the state’s Fifth District in nearly half a century, at least one of her events last week was targeted by activists, as Mr. Kim’s and Ms. Slotkin’s were, as part of “Impeachment August,” in a bid to encourage activists to show up and pressure the lawmakers to endorse the step.

But on Wednesday, as guests of the Northwest Oklahoma City Chamber asked Ms. Horn questions over plates of pasta and glasses of iced tea, no one raised the topic. Instead, a veteran rose to press about support for veterans in the community. Another man, his breathing tube in one hand, asked about efforts to control pharmaceutical costs. An immigration advocate wanted to know about the potential for moving forward with immigration overhaul.

“Impeachment would not be good in this district,” said Peter G. Pierce III, 69, who had asked about prescription drugs. A Democratic supporter of Ms. Horn, he said he would prefer to get rid of Mr. Trump “the old-fashioned way, and vote him out.”

“You don’t wound the king,” he added, “you kill him.”

Ms. Horn, without mentioning the “i” word in an interview on Thursday, said the forum was typical of what she had heard from voters across her Republican-leaning district — and what she had not.

“People are asking me what we can do about my student loans. ‘How can we get a doctor in our community?’” she said. “These are the things that can literally make a difference in somebody’s life on a day-to-day basis.”

“We’ve got to talk about and do the work that matters to people,” she said.

In a district where Mr. Trump won by nearly 14 percent, many voters are wary of the consequences of an impeachment inquiry.

“If they were able to get it through, would it set a precedent for future administrations that instead of working the problems out, we impeach?” asked Marvin Hazel, an Oklahoma City pastor and an independent who voted for Mr. Trump in 2016 and is a fan of Ms. Horn. “That would be a bad precedent to start.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

‘I Am on My Way to Being Very Well,’ Justice Ginsburg Tells Thousands of Fans

Westlake Legal Group merlin_160000092_272764d6-43e2-4cbb-909f-a12a24428ef7-facebookJumbo ‘I Am on My Way to Being Very Well,’ Justice Ginsburg Tells Thousands of Fans Trump, Donald J Supreme Court (US) Pancreatic Cancer Pancreas Ginsburg, Ruth Bader cancer

WASHINGTON — “How am I feeling?” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg asked on Saturday, articulating the question on the minds of nervous liberals and many of the 4,000 people who had stood in line for hours to see her interviewed in a cavernous convention center.

“This audience can see,” she said, “that I am alive.” The statement was greeted with thunderous applause. “And I am on my way to being very well,” she added as the room quieted down.

Justice Ginsburg was assisted as she climbed the stairs to the stage, at a book festival sponsored by the Library of Congress. But she was relaxed, alert and cheerful in discussing her life and work.

The interview was part of a remarkably busy public schedule for Justice Ginsburg after the Supreme Court announced last week that she had been treated for pancreatic cancer. The appearances have given liberals hope that she will remain on the court longer than President Trump will be in the White House, allowing a Democrat to name her successor.

Justice Ginsburg, 86, was in Buffalo on Monday to receive an honorary degree. She is scheduled to be in North Little Rock, Ark., on Tuesday. Demand for tickets was so high that the event was moved to a sports arena with a capacity of about 18,000.

Nina Totenberg, the NPR correspondent who interviewed Justice Ginsburg on Saturday, said there were another 16,000 people on the waiting list for her appearance in Arkansas.

Over the next three weeks, Justice Ginsburg will also appear in Raleigh, N.C., Chicago, twice in New York and again in Washington.

The appearances tend to follow a pattern: a standing ovation from an adoring crowd, followed by questioning from a sympathetic interviewer. Justice Ginsburg tells nicely honed anecdotes about her earlier career as a feminist professor and litigator, her marriage, the Supreme Court and the law. She lands a couple of jokes. She describes her unlikely friendship with Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in 2016.

But the tone was a little different on Saturday in light of her recent medical setback.

“I love my job,” she said. “It has kept me going through four cancer bouts. Instead of concentrating on my aches and pains, I just know that I have to read a set of briefs and go over a draft opinion. Somehow, I have to surmount whatever is going on in my body and concentrate on the court’s work.”

The latest string of public appearances was scheduled before the announcement that Justice Ginsburg had undergone three weeks of radiation treatment for a malignant tumor on her pancreas. “The tumor was treated definitively and there is no evidence of disease elsewhere in the body,” the court’s statement said.

This was Justice Ginsburg’s fourth brush with cancer, following surgery in December to remove two malignant nodules from her left lung, surgery for early-stage pancreatic cancer in 2009 and treatment for colon cancer in 1999.

Medical experts said the court’s statement about Justice Ginsburg’s recent tumor was vague enough to make it difficult to pinpoint her precise diagnosis, much less to speculate on how her disease might progress.

But most experts agreed that the tumor, described as a localized malignant tumor, was likely to have been a new lesion in the pancreas, rather than a recurrence of the earlier pancreatic cancer or a cancer from another organ that had spread.

Though surgery is typically the preferred treatment for a tumor in the pancreas, Justice Ginsburg appears to have chosen radiation, which is generally less disruptive. Surgery can be grueling and tough on someone of Justice Ginsburg’s age and health.

A stent was inserted in Justice Ginsburg’s bile duct, the court’s statement said, indicating that the tumor was in the head of the pancreas, according to experts. Surgery to remove that kind of tumor is a complex four- to 12-hour procedure with a high rate of complications and even death. It often leaves the patient with diabetes and entails a long recovery period.

“It’s a surgery we do often, but you’re in the hospital for a week, and you’d not be 100 percent yourself for six to eight weeks, and maybe three months,” said Dr. Daniel Labow, the chairman of surgical oncology at Mount Sinai Health System.

The type of radiation treatment Justice Ginsburg had, called stereotactic ablative radiation therapy, concentrates radiation on the tumor, limiting damage to the surrounding organs, and is generally less disruptive to patients’ lives.

Justice Ginsburg is loath to miss work or cut back on her public schedule. Despite her health setbacks over the years, she had never missed an argument in her 25 years on the court until January, when she was absent from the bench for two weeks after her lung surgery. She participated in the cases argued then by reading briefs and transcripts.

On Saturday, Justice Ginsburg discussed only one recent Supreme Court decision, the ruling in June that determined federal courts are powerless to address partisan gerrymandering, the practice of drawing voting districts to aid the party in power.

It was a 5-to-4 decision, and Justice Ginsburg and the other three liberal members of the court were in dissent. She denounced a practice that she called rigged elections. “That’s not the way a democracy should run,” she said.

Were Justice Ginsburg to leave the court during Mr. Trump’s first term, it would give him an opportunity to name a third justice. The last president to appoint more than two justices in his first term was Richard M. Nixon, who put four on the court from 1969 to 1972. Those appointments spelled the end of the liberal court that had been led by Chief Justice Earl Warren and created a conservative majority that remains to this day.

The current court is closely divided, with five Republican appointees and four Democratic ones. A third Trump appointee would not only make the balance more lopsided but would also almost certainly move the court’s ideological center to the right.

On Saturday, Justice Ginsburg seemed committed to staying on the job while marveling at her celebrity. “It’s amazing,” she said. “At the advanced age of 86, everyone wants to take a picture with me.”

Carla Hayden, the librarian of Congress, said she had been inclined to introduce the justice as “the Beyoncé of jurisprudence.” But Justice Ginsburg had a different idea, Ms. Hayden said, indicating a preference for “the J. Lo of jurisprudence.”

A little later, Justice Ginsburg described meeting Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez in her judicial chambers. She shared with the celebrity couple her mother-in-law’s secret for a happy marriage: “It helps sometimes to be a little deaf.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

‘I Am on My Way to Being Very Well,’ Justice Ginsburg Tells Thousands of Fans

Westlake Legal Group merlin_160000092_272764d6-43e2-4cbb-909f-a12a24428ef7-facebookJumbo ‘I Am on My Way to Being Very Well,’ Justice Ginsburg Tells Thousands of Fans Trump, Donald J Supreme Court (US) Pancreatic Cancer Pancreas Ginsburg, Ruth Bader cancer

WASHINGTON — “How am I feeling?” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg asked on Saturday, articulating the question on the minds of nervous liberals and many of the 4,000 people who had stood in line for hours to see her interviewed in a cavernous convention center.

“This audience can see,” she said, “that I am alive.” The statement was greeted with thunderous applause. “And I am on my way to being very well,” she added as the room quieted down.

Justice Ginsburg was assisted as she climbed the stairs to the stage, at a book festival sponsored by the Library of Congress. But she was relaxed, alert and cheerful in discussing her life and work.

The interview was part of a remarkably busy public schedule for Justice Ginsburg after the Supreme Court announced last week that she had been treated for pancreatic cancer. The appearances have given liberals hope that she will remain on the court longer than President Trump will be in the White House, allowing a Democrat to name her successor.

Justice Ginsburg, 86, was in Buffalo on Monday to receive an honorary degree. She is scheduled to be in North Little Rock, Ark., on Tuesday. Demand for tickets was so high that the event was moved to a sports arena with a capacity of about 18,000.

Nina Totenberg, the NPR correspondent who interviewed Justice Ginsburg on Saturday, said there were another 16,000 people on the waiting list for her appearance in Arkansas.

Over the next three weeks, Justice Ginsburg will also appear in Raleigh, N.C., Chicago, twice in New York and again in Washington.

The appearances tend to follow a pattern: a standing ovation from an adoring crowd, followed by questioning from a sympathetic interviewer. Justice Ginsburg tells nicely honed anecdotes about her earlier career as a feminist professor and litigator, her marriage, the Supreme Court and the law. She lands a couple of jokes. She describes her unlikely friendship with Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in 2016.

But the tone was a little different on Saturday in light of her recent medical setback.

“I love my job,” she said. “It has kept me going through four cancer bouts. Instead of concentrating on my aches and pains, I just know that I have to read a set of briefs and go over a draft opinion. Somehow, I have to surmount whatever is going on in my body and concentrate on the court’s work.”

The latest string of public appearances was scheduled before the announcement that Justice Ginsburg had undergone three weeks of radiation treatment for a malignant tumor on her pancreas. “The tumor was treated definitively and there is no evidence of disease elsewhere in the body,” the court’s statement said.

This was Justice Ginsburg’s fourth brush with cancer, following surgery in December to remove two malignant nodules from her left lung, surgery for early-stage pancreatic cancer in 2009 and treatment for colon cancer in 1999.

Medical experts said the court’s statement about Justice Ginsburg’s recent tumor was vague enough to make it difficult to pinpoint her precise diagnosis, much less to speculate on how her disease might progress.

But most experts agreed that the tumor, described as a localized malignant tumor, was likely to have been a new lesion in the pancreas, rather than a recurrence of the earlier pancreatic cancer or a cancer from another organ that had spread.

Though surgery is typically the preferred treatment for a tumor in the pancreas, Justice Ginsburg appears to have chosen radiation, which is generally less disruptive. Surgery can be grueling and tough on someone of Justice Ginsburg’s age and health.

A stent was inserted in Justice Ginsburg’s bile duct, the court’s statement said, indicating that the tumor was in the head of the pancreas, according to experts. Surgery to remove that kind of tumor is a complex four- to 12-hour procedure with a high rate of complications and even death. It often leaves the patient with diabetes and entails a long recovery period.

“It’s a surgery we do often, but you’re in the hospital for a week, and you’d not be 100 percent yourself for six to eight weeks, and maybe three months,” said Dr. Daniel Labow, the chairman of surgical oncology at Mount Sinai Health System.

The type of radiation treatment Justice Ginsburg had, called stereotactic ablative radiation therapy, concentrates radiation on the tumor, limiting damage to the surrounding organs, and is generally less disruptive to patients’ lives.

Justice Ginsburg is loath to miss work or cut back on her public schedule. Despite her health setbacks over the years, she had never missed an argument in her 25 years on the court until January, when she was absent from the bench for two weeks after her lung surgery. She participated in the cases argued then by reading briefs and transcripts.

On Saturday, Justice Ginsburg discussed only one recent Supreme Court decision, the ruling in June that determined federal courts are powerless to address partisan gerrymandering, the practice of drawing voting districts to aid the party in power.

It was a 5-to-4 decision, and Justice Ginsburg and the other three liberal members of the court were in dissent. She denounced a practice that she called rigged elections. “That’s not the way a democracy should run,” she said.

Were Justice Ginsburg to leave the court during Mr. Trump’s first term, it would give him an opportunity to name a third justice. The last president to appoint more than two justices in his first term was Richard M. Nixon, who put four on the court from 1969 to 1972. Those appointments spelled the end of the liberal court that had been led by Chief Justice Earl Warren and created a conservative majority that remains to this day.

The current court is closely divided, with five Republican appointees and four Democratic ones. A third Trump appointee would not only make the balance more lopsided but would also almost certainly move the court’s ideological center to the right.

On Saturday, Justice Ginsburg seemed committed to staying on the job while marveling at her celebrity. “It’s amazing,” she said. “At the advanced age of 86, everyone wants to take a picture with me.”

Carla Hayden, the librarian of Congress, said she had been inclined to introduce the justice as “the Beyoncé of jurisprudence.” But Justice Ginsburg had a different idea, Ms. Hayden said, indicating a preference for “the J. Lo of jurisprudence.”

A little later, Justice Ginsburg described meeting Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez in her judicial chambers. She shared with the celebrity couple her mother-in-law’s secret for a happy marriage: “It helps sometimes to be a little deaf.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

How a Trump Tax Break to Help Poor Communities Became a Windfall for the Rich

NEW ORLEANS — President Trump has portrayed America’s cities as wastelands, ravaged by crime and homelessness, infested by rats.

But the Trump administration’s signature plan to lift them — a multibillion-dollar tax break that is supposed to help low-income areas — has fueled a wave of developments financed by and built for the wealthiest Americans.

Among the early beneficiaries of the tax incentive are billionaire financiers like Leon Cooperman and business magnates like Sidney Kohl — and Mr. Trump’s family members and advisers.

Former Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey; Richard LeFrak, a New York real estate titan who is close to the president; Anthony Scaramucci, a former White House aide who recently had a falling out with Mr. Trump; and the family of Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, all are looking to profit from what is shaping up to be a once-in-a-generation bonanza for elite investors.

The stated goal of the tax benefit — tucked into the Republicans’ 2017 tax-cut legislation — was to coax investors to pump cash into poor neighborhoods, known as opportunity zones, leading to new housing, businesses and jobs.

The initiative allows people to sell stocks or other investments and delay capital gains taxes for years — as long as they plow the proceeds into projects in federally certified opportunity zones. Any profits from those projects can avoid federal taxes altogether.

“Opportunity zones, hottest thing going, providing massive new incentives for investment and job creation in distressed communities,” Mr. Trump declared at a recent rally in Cincinnati.

Instead, billions of untaxed investment profits are beginning to pour into high-end apartment buildings and hotels, storage facilities that employ only a handful of workers, and student housing in bustling college towns, among other projects.

Many of the projects that will enjoy special tax status were underway long before the opportunity-zone provision was enacted. Financial institutions are boasting about the tax savings that await those who invest in real estate in affluent neighborhoods.

ImageWestlake Legal Group 31ozbonanza8-articleLarge How a Trump Tax Break to Help Poor Communities Became a Windfall for the Rich Trump, Donald J Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (2017) Scaramucci, Anthony Parker, Sean (1979- ) opportunity zones New Orleans (La) Miami (Fla) Lefrak, Richard S Kushner, Jared Kushner Cos Federal Taxes (US) Christie, Christopher J Capital Gains Tax

Among those raising money for opportunity-zone investments are Anthony Scaramucci, center, the founder of SkyBridge Capital, and Chris Christie, right, the former governor of New Jersey.CreditBridget Bennett for The New York Times

Mr. Scaramucci’s development in New Orleans offers a portrait of how the tax break works. His investment company, SkyBridge Capital, is using the so-called opportunity zone initiative to help build a hotel, outfitted with an opulent restaurant and a rooftop pool, in the city’s trendy Warehouse District.

The tax benefit also is helping finance the construction of a 46-story, glass-wrapped apartment tower — amenities include a yoga lawn and a pool surrounded by cabanas and daybeds — in a Houston neighborhood already brimming with new projects aimed at the wealthy.

And in Miami’s hot Design District, where commercial real estate prices have nearly tripled in the last decade, the tax break is set to be used for a ritzy new office tower with a landscaped roof terrace.

Some proponents of opportunity zones note that money is already flowing into downtrodden communities like Birmingham, Ala., and Erie, Pa. They argue that more funds will follow. And they note that because no data exists on where investments are being made, it is impossible to quantify the benefits going to the wealthy versus the poor.

“The early wave, that’s not what you judge,” said John Lettieri, president of the Economic Innovation Group, an organization that lobbied for the establishment of opportunity zones.

But leaders of groups that work in cities and rural areas to combat poverty say they are disappointed with how it is playing out so far.

“Capital is going to flow to the lowest-risk, highest-return environment,” said Aaron T. Seybert, the social investment officer at the Kresge Foundation, a community-development group in Troy, Mich., that supported the opportunity-zone effort.

“Perhaps 95 percent of this is doing no good for people we care about.”

Mr. Scaramucci, left, shaking hands with John F. Kelly, the former White House chief of staff. Mr. Scaramucci is using opportunity-zone advantages to help build a hotel in a trendy section of New Orleans.CreditBridget Bennett for The New York Times

The opportunity-zone tax break was targeted at the trillions of dollars of capital gains held by rich Americans and their companies: profits from investments in the stock market, real estate and other businesses, even short-term trades by hedge funds. When investors sell those assets, they can incur tax bills of up to 41 percent.

Sean Parker, an early backer of Facebook, helped come up with the idea of pairing a capital-gains tax break with an incentive to invest in distressed neighborhoods. “When you are a founder of Facebook, and you own a lot of stock,” Mr. Parker said at a recent opportunity-zone conference, “you spend a lot of time thinking about capital gains.”

Starting in 2013, Mr. Parker bankrolled a Capitol Hill lobbying effort to pitch the idea to members of Congress. That effort was run through his Economic Innovation Group. In addition to Mr. Parker, the group’s backers included Dan Gilbert, the billionaire founder of Quicken Loans, and Ted Ullyot, the former general counsel of Facebook.

The plan won the support of Senators Cory Booker, Democrat of New Jersey, and Tim Scott, Republican of South Carolina. When Congress, at Mr. Trump’s urging, began discussing major changes to the federal tax code in 2017, Mr. Parker’s idea had a chance to become reality.

Mr. Scott, who sponsored a version of the opportunity-zone legislation that was later incorporated into the broader tax cut package, said it was “for American people stuck, sometimes trapped, in a place where it seems like the lights grow dimmer, and the future does, too.”

“Let’s turn those lights on and make the future bright,” he added.

Confined to six pages in the 185-page tax bill, the provision can significantly increase the profits investors reap on real estate and other transactions.

It allows investors to defer for up to seven years any capital gains taxes on the money they invest in opportunity zones. (That deferral is valuable because it allows people to invest a larger sum upfront, potentially generating more profits over time.) After 10 years, the investor can cash out — by selling the opportunity-zone real estate, for example — and not owe any taxes on the profits.

Over a decade, those dual incentives could increase an investor’s returns by 70 percent, according to an analysis by Novogradac, an accounting firm.

“We are very, very excited about the potential,” the president’s daughter Ivanka Trump said last year at an event celebrating Mr. Parker’s role in creating opportunity zones. “The whole White House obviously is behind the effort. The whole administration.”

The opportunity zones, focused on low-income census tracts, were drawn by officials in each state, as well as in Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. Last year, the Treasury Department approved roughly 8,800 such zones. (The White House and Treasury declined to make senior officials available to discuss the program.)

Nearly a third of the 31 million people who live in the zones are considered poor — almost double the national poverty rate. Yet there are plenty of affluent areas inside those poor census tracts. And, as investors would soon realize, some of the zones were not low income at all.

The Preston is financed by the investors in Cresset, a multibillion-dollar asset management firm.CreditBrandon Thibodeaux for The New York Times

The Harvard Club of New York City, in Midtown Manhattan, is the embodiment of America’s old-money elite. Crimson-jacketed waiters serve members who are watched over by oil portraits of elite alumni.

One recent morning, financial advisers representing several dozen of America’s richest dynasties — advisers to the Pritzker and Soros families were listed as attendees — crowded into a drab meeting room on the club’s third floor.

The advisers were there to see Daniel Kowalski, a top aide to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and the Trump administration’s point person for the opportunity-zone rules. Mr. Kowalski is barnstorming the country, bouncing from one conference to the next, explaining to real estate investors and developers how to take advantage of the new rules.

Mr. Kowalski was an aide to the Trump campaign, where he worked for the White House policy adviser Stephen Miller. Before that, he was an aide to Jeff Sessions when Mr. Sessions was on the Senate Budget Committee.

[The Trump associates benefiting from a tax break for poor communities.]

At the Harvard Club, he dived into an explanation of how opportunity zones work — and for whom they work. “The audience for opportunity zones is inherently fairly small because it’s limited to capital-gains income, which is why I wanted to come and talk to this group,” he told the room of advisers.

That audience is small indeed: Only 7 percent of Americans report taxable capital gains, and nearly two-thirds of that income was reported by people with a total annual income of $1 million or more, according to I.R.S. data.

Yet this is a vital constituency, since the success of the opportunity-zone program will hinge largely on how much money investors kick in. That is why the Trump administration — and Mr. Kowalski in particular — is promoting the tax break on Wall Street.

“I have served a little bit as a middle man between the business community and the I.R.S.,” he said at another conference a few weeks later.

More than 200 opportunity-zone funds have been established by banks like Goldman Sachs and major real estate companies, including CIM Group of Los Angeles, which has previously been a partner with the Trump and Kushner families on projects. Those funds have said their goal was to raise a total of nearly $57 billion.

The law does not require public disclosure of who are taking advantage of the initiative or how they are deploying their funds. Among those who have invested money or said they intend to are Mr. Kohl, a founder of the department store chain that bears his name; Steve Case, co-founder of AOL; Alexander Bhathal, part owner of the Sacramento Kings basketball team; and Richard Forman, the former owner of the Forman Mills chain of clothing stores, according to interviews and other public statements.

Daniel Kowalski, the Trump administration’s point person for opportunity-zone rules, speaking at a Washington forum about them in June.CreditMelissa Lyttle for The New York Times

Many others are lesser-known business executives who recently sold small companies or real estate and are looking for ways to avoid large tax bills.

Paul DeMoret, for example, recently sold his auto-industry software company in Oregon. He said he was using some of those capital gains to help finance a Courtyard by Marriott in Winston-Salem, N.C., and an apartment building in Tempe, Ariz., among other projects in opportunity zones. He is making the investments through a private equity firm, Virtua Partners.

The tax break is largely benefiting the real estate industry — where Mr. Trump made his fortune and still has extensive business interests — and it is luring people with personal or professional connections to the president.

Mr. Christie, a onetime adviser to Mr. Trump, has raised money for opportunity-zone investments including an apartment building in Hackensack, N.J., and a self-storage center in Connecticut.

Cadre, an investment company co-founded by Mr. Kushner and his brother, Joshua, is raising hundreds of millions of dollars that it hopes to use on opportunity-zone projects. The company is eyeing neighborhoods in Savannah, Ga., Dallas, Los Angeles and Nashville that are expected to grow larger and wealthier in coming years. Jared Kushner has a stake in Cadre worth up to $50 million, according to his most recent financial disclosure.

Mr. LeFrak, a longtime confidant of Mr. Trump’s and a major campaign donor, is building a luxury residential community in the middle of an opportunity zone in Miami. (It is unclear how much of the development’s funding will end up being tax advantaged.)

Not far away in the Design District, Daniel Lebensohn is planning to build his high-end office tower. Mr. Lebensohn previously joined the Trump Organization to sell luxury condominiums at the Trump Hollywood complex north of Miami.

And Mr. Kushner’s family company directly owns or is in the process of buying at least a dozen properties in New York, New Jersey and Florida that are in opportunity zones. They include a pair in Miami, where Kushner Companies plans to build a 393-apartment luxury high rise with sweeping views of Biscayne Bay, according to a company presentation for potential investors.

A representative for the Kushner family confirmed that it was considering opportunity-zone funding for some developments, but said it would probably not use the funding for the Miami projects.

Backers of the opportunity-zone program say luxury projects are the easiest to finance, which is why those have been happening first. Over the long run, they say, those deals will be eclipsed by ones that produce social benefits in low-income areas.

At least some struggling neighborhoods are already starting to receive investments.

In Birmingham, for example, a developer is using opportunity-zone funds to convert a building, vacant for decades, into 140 apartments primarily aimed at the local work force.

“We are seeing projects that are being announced here in Alabama that would not have happened otherwise,” said Alex Flachsbart, founder of Opportunity Alabama, which is trying to steer investors to economically struggling neighborhoods.

Similar projects are getting underway in Erie, Cleveland and Charlottesville, Va. Goldman Sachs is using some of its capital gains — profits on the company’s own investments — in opportunity zones, including $364 million for mixed-income housing developments in Salt Lake City, Baltimore and other cities.

Mr. Case, the AOL co-founder, and Derrick Morgan, a former professional football player, are among those who have announced that they will invest in opportunity-zone projects that are designed to address clear social and economic problems.

As he announced his retirement from the Tennessee Titans in July, Mr. Morgan wrote on Instagram that his goal would be to “create more opportunities for those who are underserved and overlooked” in communities like Coatesville, Pa., where he went to high school.

Emanuel J. Friedman, a hedge fund manager, is using some of his capital gains and money he has raised from others to build 11 warehouses in rural Jasper County, S.C., near the Savannah seaport. The warehouses won’t employ many people, but he said the jobs would offer higher wages than hotel housekeeping positions at the nearby Hilton Head resort, where many area residents now work.

“Of course it will make a difference,” Mr. Friedman said. “It is mind-boggling. It is the best thing I have ever done.”

The developers of the Sole Mia project in North Miami, Fla., urged a local official to nominate the area as an opportunity zone and are now considering ways to take advantage of the status.CreditScott McIntyre for The New York Times

But even supporters of the initiative agree that the bulk of the opportunity-zone money is going to places that do not need the help, while many poorer communities are so far empty-handed.

Some opportunity zones that were classified as low income based on census data from several years ago have since gentrified. Others that remain poor over all have large numbers of wealthy households.

Number of Opportunity Zones by Median Household Income

More than 7 percent of opportunity zones had household incomes above the median census tract in 2017. Investors are focusing on projects in these neighborhoods.

Westlake Legal Group oz-distribution-335 How a Trump Tax Break to Help Poor Communities Became a Windfall for the Rich Trump, Donald J Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (2017) Scaramucci, Anthony Parker, Sean (1979- ) opportunity zones New Orleans (La) Miami (Fla) Lefrak, Richard S Kushner, Jared Kushner Cos Federal Taxes (US) Christie, Christopher J Capital Gains Tax

$54,408

Median

U.S. tract

$77,692

Fishtown,

Philadelphia

$137,147

Long Island City,

Queens

$98,508

Market Square,

Houston

Westlake Legal Group oz-distribution-600 How a Trump Tax Break to Help Poor Communities Became a Windfall for the Rich Trump, Donald J Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (2017) Scaramucci, Anthony Parker, Sean (1979- ) opportunity zones New Orleans (La) Miami (Fla) Lefrak, Richard S Kushner, Jared Kushner Cos Federal Taxes (US) Christie, Christopher J Capital Gains Tax

$54,408

Median

U.S. tract

$77,692

Fishtown,

Philadelphia

$91,397

Gowanus,

Brooklyn

$98,508

Market Square,

Houston

$137,147

Long Island City,

Queens

Westlake Legal Group oz-distribution-900 How a Trump Tax Break to Help Poor Communities Became a Windfall for the Rich Trump, Donald J Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (2017) Scaramucci, Anthony Parker, Sean (1979- ) opportunity zones New Orleans (La) Miami (Fla) Lefrak, Richard S Kushner, Jared Kushner Cos Federal Taxes (US) Christie, Christopher J Capital Gains Tax

$54,408

Median

U.S. tract

$91,397

Gowanus,

Brooklyn

$77,692

Fishtown,

Philadelphia

$98,508

Market Square,

Houston

$137,147

Long Island City,

Queens

Source: American Community Survey

By Blacki Migliozzi and Juliette Love

And nearly 200 of the 8,800 federally designated opportunity zones are adjacent to poor areas but are not themselves considered low income.

Under the law, up to 5 percent of the zones did not need to be poor. The idea was to enable governors to draw opportunity zones in ways that would include projects or businesses just outside poor census tracts, potentially creating jobs for low-income people. In addition, states could designate whole sections of cities or rural areas that would be targeted for investment, including some higher-income census tracts.

In some cases, developers have lobbied state officials to include specific plots of land inside opportunity zones.

In Miami, for example, Mr. LeFrak — who donated nearly $500,000 to Mr. Trump’s campaign and inauguration and is personally close to the president — is working with a Florida partner on a 183-acre project that is set to include 12 residential towers and eight football fields’ worth of retail and commercial space.

In spring 2018, as they planned the so-called Sole Mia project, Mr. LeFrak’s executives encouraged city officials in North Miami to nominate the area around the site as an opportunity zone, according to Larry M. Spring, the city manager. They did so, and the Treasury Department made the designation official.

The Far West Side of Manhattan is part of an opportunity zone — even as high-end towers have been replacing run-down apartment buildings and more than 15 percent of households reported income of $200,000 or more in 2017, according to an analysis by Webster Pacific, a consulting firm. This is the new home of Pershing Square Capital Management, the prominent hedge fund run by the billionaire Bill Ackman.

Mr. Ackman is trying to find tenants for 80,000 square feet of unused office space in his fund’s building, which has a Jaguar dealership on the ground floor. He said he was using its location inside an opportunity zone as a lure.

That is because investors can use their capital gains to invest not only in real estate but also in businesses inside opportunity zones. A company that sets up shop inside Mr. Ackman’s building therefore would be eligible to accept tax-advantaged opportunity-zone money.

One of the Sole Mia partners is Richard LeFrak, who donated nearly $500,000 to President Trump’s campaign and inauguration.CreditScott McIntyre for The New York Times

Financial institutions are not even trying to make it look as if their opportunity-zone investments were intended to benefit needy communities.

CBRE, one of the country’s largest real estate companies, is seeking opportunity-zone funding for an apartment building in Alexandria, Va., which CBRE is pitching to prospective investors as “one of the region’s most affluent locations.”

JPMorgan Chase is raising money to build housing targeting students in College Park, Md., near the University of Maryland. (Because many students do not have jobs, census data often wrongly suggests that college towns are poor neighborhoods.)

In marketing materials, JPMorgan noted that while College Park “qualifies as low income due to the student population, the area around it is affluent.” The bank added, “The tax benefits can be remarkable.”

The Swiss bank UBS is raising funds from its “ultra high net worth” clients — requiring in some cases that they have at least $50 million in investable assets — for developments in New York and Connecticut. The projects include a 23-story retail and office building in Downtown Brooklyn and an upscale apartment building in New Rochelle, N.Y., with a yoga studio and 24-hour valet parking. There is even a spa — for residents’ pets.

Other companies have set up subscription databases showing which zones have the highest incomes and fastest-growing populations to help investors steer their money to the most lucrative and least risky destinations.

“The current system is clearly driving capital to places that are known to be winners,” said Christopher A. Coes, vice president at Smart Growth America, a nonprofit group that encourages investments in American cities.

This street in New Orleans became part of an opportunity zone after a hotel in the Virgin chain had already been planned there.CreditAkasha Rabut for The New York Times

The Warehouse District of New Orleans is one of the city’s trendiest neighborhoods. Some of the area’s hottest restaurants — as well as a new one dishing out shrimp tempura tacos — are here. So are hipster barbershops. Boutique hotels spill well-heeled tourists onto the red brick sidewalks. High-end coffee shops are packed with young people buried in their MacBooks.

And it is getting hotter. The sounds of heavy-duty equipment heaving steel or pouring cement are audible across the neighborhood.

In other words, in a city grappling with acute poverty, this is not a neighborhood that especially needs a generous new tax break to lure luxury lodging. Yet state officials have established an opportunity zone here.

That decision benefited businesses already operating or planned for the district. One of those is a 225-room hotel, part of Richard Branson’s Virgin Hotels chain, whose plans were unveiled a year before Mr. Trump signed the tax law. Its location inside an opportunity zone meant investors could earn greater profits than they otherwise would have, by financing the project with tax-advantaged money.

Changing Incomes in New Orleans

Early opportunity zone development is often happening in neighborhoods where income was already rising, not in struggling areas.

Westlake Legal Group la-map-Artboard_1 How a Trump Tax Break to Help Poor Communities Became a Windfall for the Rich Trump, Donald J Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (2017) Scaramucci, Anthony Parker, Sean (1979- ) opportunity zones New Orleans (La) Miami (Fla) Lefrak, Richard S Kushner, Jared Kushner Cos Federal Taxes (US) Christie, Christopher J Capital Gains Tax

Median household

income 2012-17

Opportunity

zones

French

Quarter

Virgin Hotel

(under construction)

Hoffman Triangle

Warehouse District

NEW ORLEANS

Garden

District

Mississippi River

Westlake Legal Group la-map-Artboard_1_copy How a Trump Tax Break to Help Poor Communities Became a Windfall for the Rich Trump, Donald J Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (2017) Scaramucci, Anthony Parker, Sean (1979- ) opportunity zones New Orleans (La) Miami (Fla) Lefrak, Richard S Kushner, Jared Kushner Cos Federal Taxes (US) Christie, Christopher J Capital Gains Tax

Median household income 2012-17

Opportunity

zones

French

Quarter

Virgin Hotel

Hoffman

Triangle

Warehouse

District

NEW ORLEANS

Mississippi River

Sources: American Community Survey; OpenStreetMap | By Weiyi Cai and Blacki Migliozzi

Those investors include Mr. Scaramucci, who briefly served as White House communications director in 2017 and has claimed credit for helping to create the opportunity-zone plan. “We got to get into this business because this will be transformative to the United States,” he said recently.

Mr. Scaramucci’s investment firm, SkyBridge Capital, has raised more than $50 million in capital gains from outside investors, and most of it is being used to finance the hotel, according to Brett S. Messing, the company’s president. He said the hotel was likely to be the first of numerous opportunity-zone projects financed by SkyBridge.

The Virgin Hotels construction site in New Orleans. Because of the zone, the 225-room hotel can be financed with tax-advantaged money.CreditAkasha Rabut for The New York Times

Less than two miles away is the poorest opportunity zone in Louisiana — and one of the poorest nationwide. The zone includes the Hoffman Triangle neighborhood, where the average household earns less than $15,000 per year. Block after block, streets are lined with dilapidated, narrow homes, many of them boarded up. On a recent afternoon, one of them was serving as a work site for prostitutes.

City officials, including the head of economic development for New Orleans, said they were not aware of any opportunity-zone projects in this neighborhood.

Terrance Ross, a construction worker who has lived in the area for 20 years, is familiar with the building boom underway in the Warehouse District.

“Why is the federal government putting money where money is already accumulating?” he asked, lighting a cigarette and standing across the street from an abandoned house. “This neighborhood just needs some tender loving care.”

Similar scenes are playing out in opportunity zones across the United States: The federal government is subsidizing luxury developments — often within walking distance of economically distressed communities — that were in the works before Mr. Trump was even elected president.

In Houston, construction recently started on the Preston, with 373 “luxury for rent” apartments as well as a “skydeck” and a resort-style swimming pool. The development is being financed by the investors in Cresset, a multibillion-dollar asset management firm, including one of its founders, Avy Stein.

Changing Incomes in Houston

Early opportunity zone investment is coming to Market Square, already a site of high-end developments and major income growth.

Westlake Legal Group houston-map-Artboard_1 How a Trump Tax Break to Help Poor Communities Became a Windfall for the Rich Trump, Donald J Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (2017) Scaramucci, Anthony Parker, Sean (1979- ) opportunity zones New Orleans (La) Miami (Fla) Lefrak, Richard S Kushner, Jared Kushner Cos Federal Taxes (US) Christie, Christopher J Capital Gains Tax

Median household

income 2012-17

Market Square is home to three recent luxury developments.

Greater

Fifth Ward

Downtown

Houston

Fourth Ward

Opportunity zones

South

Central Houston

University

of Houston

Rice

University

Houston

Zoo

Westlake Legal Group houston-map-Artboard_1_copy How a Trump Tax Break to Help Poor Communities Became a Windfall for the Rich Trump, Donald J Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (2017) Scaramucci, Anthony Parker, Sean (1979- ) opportunity zones New Orleans (La) Miami (Fla) Lefrak, Richard S Kushner, Jared Kushner Cos Federal Taxes (US) Christie, Christopher J Capital Gains Tax

Median household income 2012-17

Market Square is home to three recent luxury developments.

Downtown

Houston

Fourth Ward

South

Central Houston

University

of Houston

Houston

Zoo

Opportunity zones

Sources: American Community Survey; OpenStreetMap | By Weiyi Cai and Blacki Migliozzi

And in downtown Portland, Ore., the developers of a 35-story tower with a hotel, condos and office space are hoping to raise up to $150 million in opportunity-zone money to pay for the project. Condos will go for as much as $7.5 million each. The hotel is a Ritz-Carlton.

Exhibits at Mr. Scaramucci’s investment conference in Las Vegas, where opportunity zones were discussed as the next big thing.CreditBridget Bennett for The New York Times

Club music blared from speakers as millionaires and billionaires — and the money managers, lawyers, accountants and other professionals looking to make money off all this wealth — milled around a pool and private cabanas at the Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas.

They were at an annual investment conference to talk about the next big thing. This year, that thing was opportunity zones, which were the focus of five panel discussions.

The Las Vegas event was hosted by Mr. Scaramucci. Among the attendees was Mark Cuban, the billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks basketball team. At one point he posed and smiled for a photo with Mr. Scaramucci and his wife.

“OZ are super hot right now,” Mr. Cuban said in an email after the event, adding that he had recently bought a property in an opportunity zone, but had not decided yet if he would use the tax break. “Every major investor I know has been pitched a property or fund within an OZ.”

The feeding frenzy is not confined to rich individuals. Lawyers, accountants, wealth managers and consultants are enjoying a gusher of new work — and raking in fees — helping clients structure deals with the maximum tax savings.

Real estate lawyers like Brad A. Molotsky are billing hundreds of extra hours as they field calls from eager investors. One day in June, Mr. Molotsky juggled clients who wanted to invest in $500 million worth of opportunity-zone projects.

“I am just one guy, and that was from just two meetings,” said Mr. Molotsky, who works in New Jersey for the law firm Duane Morris. He has completed more than 20 opportunity-zone deals, he said, and has dozens more in the pipeline.

The night after Mr. Scaramucci’s pool party, more festivities were underway on the other end of the Las Vegas Strip — part of a separate event also focused on opportunity zones. One party was at the Soviet-themed Red Square restaurant. Inside, an investor handed out postcards with photographs of buildings he wanted to buy in opportunity zones.

At another open-bar soiree, a man in a navy suit and a cowboy hat wandered the crowd, drink in hand. Attached to the top of his hat was a large sign. It beckoned: “Looking for OZ Funds.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com