Trump’s boyhood home fetches premium from mystery buyer

trump_house_gty_1160.jpg

A view of Donald Trump’s childhood home in the in the Jamaica Estates neighborhood in the Queens borough of New York City on Sep. 16. | Getty

President Donald Trump’s boyhood home in Queens has sold for $2.14 million, a 54 percent jump from its sale price in December and a premium for the neighborhood.

The buyer took title to the house under the name Trump Birth House LLC.

Story Continued Below

The 2,000-square-foot house was flipped by a real estate speculator, Michael J. Davis of Wareham Holdings LLC, who paid $1.39 million for the Jamaica Estates property before Trump was inaugurated.

Davis made a 50 percent profit on the deal, according to Paramount Realty USA, the company that sold the house at auction.

“This property is so much more than just real estate,” Paramount’s Misha Haghani said. “Special properties are appropriately sold by auction, just like art is. As they say, beauty is truly in the eyes of the beholder.”

While on the campaign trail, the president had expressed an interest in buying his old home, which was built by his father, Fred Trump, in 1940.

“I want to buy it,” Trump told Jimmy Fallon. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on last week’s sale.

Redfin currently estimates the home value at $1.49 million. Zillow puts it at only $1.245 million.

http://www.politico.com

Grassley requests information from firm behind Trump dossier

Chuck Grassley is pictured. | AP Photo

“When political opposition research becomes the basis for law enforcement or intelligence efforts, it raises substantial questions about the independence of law enforcement and intelligence from politics,” Sen. Chuck Grassley said in the letter. | AP Photo

Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley is requesting information about the relationship between the FBI and the opposition research firm behind an unsubstantiated dossier of salacious allegations against President Donald Trump and his campaign aides.

Grassley has sent a letter to the firm, Fusion GPS, asking for the firm to disclose who funded the dossier, which was written by a former British intelligence agent, and whether the company was in touch with the FBI or Justice Department about it.

Story Continued Below

“When political opposition research becomes the basis for law enforcement or intelligence efforts, it raises substantial questions about the independence of law enforcement and intelligence from politics,” Grassley said in the letter.

Then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said in January the intelligence community did not rely on the dossier for its assessment that Russia sought to sway November’s presidential election toward Trump.

Last month, though, The Washington Post reported that the FBI reached an agreement with the former British intelligence agent, Christopher Steele, to continue his research — though the deal reportedly never came to fruition.

Steele’s dossier, published in January by BuzzFeed News, alleged that Russia has compromising information on Trump and that Trump aides colluded with Russia in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

Grassley is asking Fusion GPS to explain by April 7 who paid for Steele’s work, which is believed to have originally been funded by Republicans opposed to Trump and then by Democratic groups. The Iowa Republican wants to know if Steele was ever paid simultaneously by the FBI and Fusion GPS, and whether the firm itself ever communicated with the FBI.

Fusion GPS did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

http://www.politico.com

South Florida congresswoman wants White House to pay Palm Beach for cost of Trump’s weekend visits to Mar-A-Lago

Congresswoman Lois Frankel is pictured. | Flickr

If the Trump administration won’t cough up the cash, Congresswoman Lois Frankel’s message is clear: the president should stay away from Palm Beach as much as possible. | Flickr

Frankel says Trump’s trips to town taxing local police, airport in the millions of dollars.

Congresswoman Lois Frankel says President Donald Trump’s trips to his Mar-A-Lago estate have become “a financial burden” in Palm Beach County, and she wants the White House to pay up.

If the Trump administration won’t cough up the cash, Frankel’s message is clear: the president should stay away from Palm Beach as much as possible.

Story Continued Below

“If compensation is not assured of being forthcoming, we respectfully ask that you curtail your visits until such time as that matter is resolved favorably to our area,” writes Frankel in her letter to Trump, whose Mar-A-Lago estate lies in her congressional district.

The Democratic lawmaker held a news conference Monday in West Palm Beach to tally the Trump tab for police and local fire-rescue services, and dwindling revenue at the local airport. She detailed the bill in a letter to Trump signed by Democratic U.S. Reps. Alcee Hastings and Ted Deutch.

Here’s a breakdown of the cost whenever Trump comes to town, according to Frankel:

  • The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Department and Fire Rescue have spent about $70,000 in overtime and more than $1.7 million to date. The county expects to pony up as much as $5.8 million by year’s end.
  • The expected cost locally for the upcoming visit of the Chinese delegation at Mar-A-Lago is pegged at $280,000.
  • The city of West Palm Beach has paid $60,000 in police overtime to patrol the many pro and anti-Trump protests.
  • Stellar Aviation, the company that manages the Palm Beach County Airport, also known as Lantana Airport, reports losing $170,000 so far because of flight restrictions imposed by the feds whenever Trump visits. Other companies at the airport report they have collectively lost about $720,000 to date.

“We write to ask your assistance in alleviating the financial burden being shouldered by Palm Beach County, the City of West Palm Beach, and Palm Beach County businesses as a result of your repeated visits to your Mar-A-Lago estate,” wrote Frankel.

“During your campaign and presidency, you vowed to make jobs more plentiful and government less wasteful,” added Frankel. “We sincerely request that you lead by example.”

http://www.politico.com

Democrats eye Comstock’s swing seat after Obamacare repeal failure

Rep. Barbara Comstock is pictured. | AP Photo

Rep. Barbara Comstock said in a statement that while she liked parts of the Republican repeal bill, she could not support the final version. | AP Photo

Rep. Barbara Comstock dodged constituents, declined town halls and avoided taking a public stance on the Republican Party’s increasingly unpopular health care bill in the months leading up to its collapse.

Her last-minute decision to oppose it — after other GOP moderates had spoken out and sealed the bill’s doom — is unlikely to protect her in 2018. Democrats had already smelled blood, targeting Comstock after Hillary Clinton won her increasingly purple district in northern Virginia by 10 percentage points.

Story Continued Below

Comstock, a second-term moderate Republican, came out against her party’s Obamacare repeal bill just several hours before her ally, House Speaker Paul Ryan pulled it from the floor to forestall an even more humiliating defeat.

On that same day, a Fairfax County school teacher named Kimberly Adams announced her intention to run against Comstock as a Democrat. Others are also stepping up: Loudoun County Democratic Committee Chairman Marty Martinez said he’s talked to at least 10 potential candidates interested in unseating the Republican.

“I think she’s in big trouble,” he said of Comstock. “Normally, we have trouble finding just one.”

Comstock, who had campaigned against Obamacare and who won reelection by 6 points is among a handful of moderate Republicans who came out against the bill right before it went down. Many caught in the crossfire over Obamacare may pay the price in the midterms — earning acrimony from newly energized Democrats who see an opportunity in the botched repeal effort and in some cases (not yet in Comstock’s) from Republicans to their right.

The day before the planned vote, a Quinnipiac University poll showed that just 17 percent of voters nationally supported the repeal bill, while 56 percent opposed it. The rest were undecided.

Comstock said in a statement Friday that while she liked parts of the Republican repeal bill, she could not support the final version — in part, because GOP leaders had pulled requirements for maternity care and mental health services in their 11th-hour negotiations with the Freedom Caucus.

“The uncertainties in the current version of the bill caused me not to be able to support it today,” she said.

In Comstock’s politically splintered suburban district, repealing Obamacare was never going to be an easy sell.

Former Rep. Tom Davis, a Republican, who used to represent parts of the same district, said Comstock has been handling the divisive issue of health care exactly how she should be as a member representing a suburban swing district.

“She kept her powder dry, which is smart,” he said. “She’s a pretty savvy politician holding a swing seat in a tough year. She’s not naive about this stuff. The bill was a moving target. It kept changing. It was smart to keep a low profile.”

The district has nearly 40,000 people, or just under 5 percent of its residents, enrolled in Obamacare’s marketplace. And while the state did not expand Medicaid, a Virginia health department analysis found the bill would have cost nearly $1.8 billion in federal funding for Medicaid over a six-years, according to The Associated Press. The bill would have changed the program from an open entitlement to capped payments for states.

But Comstock’s reluctance to speak out earlier against the bill like fellow Virginia moderate Republican Rob Whitman, who opposed the bill in mid-March, saying he feared his constituents would lose coverage, caught the attention of district Democrats.

A local grass-roots group called “Dump Comstock” was formed earlier this year with the mission of defeating her in the midterms. Aiming to tie her to a president unpopular in the district, it calls her a “puppet of the Trump regime.” A super PAC called “Take Back the Tenth” was created to fund the group’s activities.

Abbey Mansfield Ruby, a DC-area corporate lawyer who founded the group, said the “ragtag army” of people in the 10th District, which has a little more than 1,000 followers on Facebook, throws events to register and educate voters for the upcoming midterms. The sole purpose of the group is to unseat Comstock.

“Comstock doesn’t stand for anything other than what House Speaker Paul Ryan tells her to stand for,” Mansfield Ruby said. “She’s a Paul Ryan loyalist who chooses party over country and constituents every time.”

An ill-timed ad campaign sponsored by the American Action Network, which aired during the NCAA Basketball tournament the day after the bill collapsed, caused further embarrassment. It thanked Republican lawmakers who supported the repeal efforts, including Comstock in the list. A spokesperson for the American Action Network said the ads had been airing for the past two weeks, adding that they would end this week.

“People in the 10th District see through all of her actions,” said Fairfax County Democratic Committee Chair Sue Langley. “It was clear that the bill was going to fail. But knowing that the bill would have been such a disaster, she should have opposed it from the start. It was the right vote for her — but at the wrong time and for the wrong reason. We don’t think that sort of move will earn her political capital in this district.”

Comstock’s deputy chief of staff Jeff Marschner denied that she had avoided the issue, or constituents who wanted to discuss the repeal bill. He said Comstock has been “ever present in her district,” talking to hundreds of people about their personal health care concerns while attending nearly 50 events since the start of the 115th Congress.

“The congresswoman also has held two telephone town halls connecting to 9,000 constituents on health care, and our office has corresponded with approximately 5,000 constituents on health care-related questions,” he said.

Still, Davis and other Republicans acknowledge that the defeat of the Obamacare repeal bill was a net loss for the GOP that could do damage in the midterms.

“Midterms are all about who shows up and we know the Democrats will,” Davis said. “You can see the anger. They’re ready to go,” he said, adding “Republicans need to generate the same intensity and this doesn’t help.”

http://www.politico.com