×
FOLLOW THE WEEK ON FACEBOOK
April 21, 2017
Scott Olson/Getty Images

An investigation by USA Today has documented more than 400 previously undisclosed properties across the U.S. owned by President Trump's business trust and companies. The properties are worth an estimated $250 million and include "at least 422 luxury condos and penthouses from New York City to Las Vegas, 12 mansion lots on bluffs overlooking his golf course on the Pacific Ocean, and dozens more smaller pieces of real estate," USA Today reported.

The properties present "an extraordinary and unprecedented potential for people, corporations, or foreign interests to try to influence the president," USA Today wrote. Because the properties in question are owned directly by Trump's companies and not licensed through a separate development company, any sales would directly augment Trump's wealth. Already, there are some murky deals: USA Today found that of the 14 luxury condos and home-building lots Trump companies have sold since Election Day, "half were sold to limited liability companies" and "no names were listed in deeds, obscuring buyers' identities."

Now that Trump has assumed office, a lot more people are apparently inquiring about buying real estate owned by the president. While Trump isn't legally obligated to offer a complete inventory of every property he owns, nor is he required to disclose when he makes a sale, he is constitutionally prohibited from accepting gifts from foreign officials. But because real estate laws allow shell companies to be set up so that a person can make a purchase without revealing his or her identity, USA Today noted it could be "impossible for the public to know" who purchases a Trump property in this manner.

"Anyone seeking to influence the president could set up an anonymous company and purchase his property," said Heather Lowe, director of government affairs at Global Financial Integrity, a group focused on stopping illegal financial transactions. "It's a big black box, and the system is failing as a check for conflicts of interest."

Read the full product of USA Today's four-month-long investigation here. Becca Stanek

12:27 p.m. ET

White House Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short on Sunday sidestepped no less than 13 questions from ABC News host George Stephanopoulos as to whether President Trump wants embattled Alabama candidate Roy Moore to win a seat in the Senate given credible allegations of his sexual misconduct toward teenage girls as young as 14. Here's a small sample of the merry-go-round interview:

Stephanopoulos: So, you're not willing to make a yes or no judgment on whether the president believes the women?

Short: I think I have answered your question three times now.

Stephanopoulos: No. I think what you have said is you have said is you have questions and concerns about the allegations.

Short: We do. We do have serious questions about the allegations. And the president has raised those and it's one of the reasons why he has not gone down to campaign for Roy Moore.

Stephanopoulos: So, he promised after the primary to back Roy Moore. Is he still backing Roy Moore?

Short: I don't think you have seen him go down there and campaign for him. I don't think you have seen him issue an endorsement. You have not seen him issue robocalls. I think he thinks at this point it is best for the people of Alabama to make the decision for their state.

Stephanopoulos: So he no longer backs Roy Moore?

Short: I think he thinks it is best for the people of Alabama to make the decision. [ABC]

After persistently pressing Short to give a yes or no answer, Stephanopoulos finally moved on to a simpler subject, tax reform. Watch the exchange below, or count all 13 questions in the full transcript here. Bonnie Kristian

11:13 a.m. ET

Saturday Night Live took a thinly veiled swipe at overly aggressive policing tactics with a sketch in which host Chance the Rapper and fellow minority citizens of Gotham ask Beck Bennett's Bruce Wayne to let Batman know he needs to "cool it down on our neighborhoods" because it "seems like he's in our neighborhood, all the time."

"You know how Batman is tough on crime?" Chance asks. "Somebody's gotta do something about him. I mean, he broke my best friend's jaw in two places and all he did was steal a TV. That's excessive!" Then, Chance adds, Batman left his friend "hanging for like 30 minutes 30 stories up by a gargoyle by his underwear." (The underwear thing, it turns out, is among Batman's favorite crime-fighting techniques.)

Watch the full skit below, and read The Week's Emily L. Hauser on the horrifying pervasiveness of police brutality. Bonnie Kristian

10:37 a.m. ET
Mandel Ngan/Getty Images

The State Department said Friday it will demand the closure of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) outpost in Washington unless the group agrees to peace talks with Israel. The agency said Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas triggered a provision in U.S. law that allows the secretary of state to shut down the PLO office if Palestine acts against Israel at the International Criminal Court (ICC). Abbas called for an ICC investigation of Israeli settlements in a September speech at the United Nations.

The PLO said Saturday it would not be blackmailed and expressed surprise at the strong-arm tactic after amicable meetings between Abbas and President Trump. An Abbas representative, Nabil Abu Rdainah, said the talks were "characterized by full understanding of the steps needed to create a climate for resumption of the peace process." Bonnie Kristian

10:28 a.m. ET
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

With less than a month to go before the special election to fill the Senate seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Alabamians are split over how to respond to the sexual misconduct allegations against Senate candidate Roy Moore (R).

Dozens of religious leaders gathered to register their dissent at a Baptist church in Birmingham Saturday, saying Moore is "infected with" a "false religious virus." In addition to addressing the accusations against Moore from a growing list of women, speakers at the gathering of pastors critiqued the candidate's apparent verbal swipe at the 1965 Voting Rights Act on Tuesday.

However, many prominent Alabama Republicans remain loyal partisans. "I believe in the Republican Party, what we stand for, and most important, we need to have a Republican in the United States Senate to vote on things like the Supreme Court justices," said Gov. Kay Ivey (R), conceding she finds the accusations troubling.

Read The Week's Paul Waldman on why Ivey and her fellow GOPers may be stuck with Moore whether they like it or not. Bonnie Kristian

10:14 a.m. ET
Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton leveled a fresh round of criticism at her erstwhile campaign rival, President Trump, in two sets of comments this weekend.

In an interview published Friday, Clinton said she stands by her past comment that Trump is Russian President Vladimir Putin's "puppet," calling the president "naive" for believing Putin's denials of election meddling. "I think that he hopes or expects the rest of us to be naive, or at least the people who support him to be naive," she continued, "but this is a serious cyberattack on America.”

Then, at an appearance in Arkansas on Saturday, Clinton said Trump is, like, totally obsessed with her. "Apparently, you know, my former opponent is obsessed with my speaking out," she said. "Apparently there was another, somebody told me, tweet today. Honestly, between tweeting and golfing, how does he get anything done?"

The tweet in question was a Saturday post in which Trump achieved a similar middle-school vibe by labeling Clinton "the worst (and biggest) loser of all time." Bonnie Kristian

8:09 a.m. ET

Saturday Night Live censured SNL alum Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) over a reporter's allegation that in 2006 he kissed her without her consent and took a picture groping her while she slept. "I know this photo looks bad, but remember: It also is bad," said Colin Jost in a Weekend Update segment on the subject. "And, sure, this was taken before he ran for public office, but it was also taken after he was a sophomore in high school. It's pretty hard to be like, 'Oh, come on. He didn't know any better. He was only 55.'"

Michael Che chimed in to note President Trump's selective condemnation of Franken, a Democrat, while refraining from comparable comment about Republican Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore.

Watch the full clip below, and read The Week's Peter Weber on what would happen in a Senate ethics investigation of Franken's conduct, which the senator invited in his second apology statement. Bonnie Kristian

7:50 a.m. ET
Zinyange Auntony/Getty Images

Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu-PF party prepared Sunday to remove President Robert Mugabe from office nearly four decades after he first took power in 1980. The decision comes after the Zimbabwean military put Mugabe, 93, and his wife Grace under house arrest earlier this week, prompting thousands of Zimbabweans to take to the streets over the weekend demanding an end to Mugabe's regime.

Zanu-PF has removed Mugabe as party leader and expelled Grace, a would-be successor, from the party as well. Emmerson Mnangagwa, who served as Zimbabwe's vice president until Mugabe fired him this month, was chosen as the new party head. "He has been expelled," one delegate told Reuters. "Mnangagwa is our new leader."

Mugabe has so far refused resignation deals offered by the military, announcing by proxy his willingness "to die" rather than leave office. Bonnie Kristian

See More Speed Reads