Donald Trump Archives - Page 6 of 233 - Florida Politics

Charles Canady may be off Donald Trump’s Supreme Court wish list

The Above The Law legal website is “handicapping Donald Trump’s Supreme Court shortlist” – and Florida Supreme Court Justice Charles Canady isn’t on it.

“In case you missed it over the holidays, Jan Crawford of CBS News, one of the most plugged-in Supreme Court reporters around, revealed Trump’s five finalists” to replace the late Antonin Scalia, who died last February.

In alphabetical order, they are Judge Steven Colloton (8th Cir.) of Iowa; Judge Thomas Hardiman (3d Cir.) of Pennsylvania; Justice Joan Larsen of Michigan; Judge William Pryor (11th Cir.) of Alabama; Judge Diane Sykes (7th Cir.) of Wisconsin, according to Crawford.

“These five judges all appeared on Trump’s first SCOTUS list of 11 names, suggesting that his supplemental list of 10 names might represent something of a second tier,” ATL reported.

Canady’s name was on that second list.

The former lawmaker has been one of two reliable conservative votes on the state’s highest court, along with Ricky Polston. But now joining them is conservative jurist C. Alan Lawson, replacing retired Justice James E.C. Perry.

Canady, a Lakeland native, served three terms in the Florida House of Representatives (1984-90) and four terms in the U.S. House of Representatives (1993-2001) as a Republican, rising to chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution.

He became general counsel to Gov. Jeb Bush, who later appointed him to the state’s 2nd District Court of Appeal in Lakeland in 2002, the bio says.

Gov. Charlie Crist then named him to the state Supreme Court in 2008. Canady also served as the court’s chief justice in 2010-12.

 

Marco Rubio puts Russian in political oppression spotlight – and calls out Vladimir Putin

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio restarted his social media campaign to highlight political prisoners worldwide Monday, this time spotlighting a Russian imprisoned under President Vladimir Putin for “unauthorized assembly, and calling out Putin by name.

“#Russia must immediately and unconditionally release prisoner of conscience Ildar Dadin #expressionNOToppression,” Florida’s Republican senator tweeted Monday morning.

It’s a restart of an occasional serial of tweets and other social media posts that Rubio has been providing in late 2014 and the first few months of 2016 before his U.S. Senate campaign. Yet while it’s not the first time Rubio has highlighted a Russian, it comes with explicit denunciation of Putin – at a time when the Russian president’s relationship with president-elect Donald Trump and allegations of election campaign interference, together with reports of Putin’s own totalitarian approach to governing, are at the top of the news.

The tweet included a meme that declared, “Russian human rights activist Ildar Dadin was sentenced to two years in prison for participating in an ‘unauthorized assembly’ – in other words, expressing his right to freedom of expression. He is the first person convicted in Russia under Vladimir Putin’s new law that bars any form of public dissent. Status: Reportedly held in a prison camp in Siberia.”

Rubio brought his campaign to the Senate floor last May with a speech that included, “Every day, people are unjustly detained, they’re tortured, publicly shamed, and murdered, often at the hands of their own government. And here’s what their crimes are: Simply disagreeing with the government… disagreeing whether through journalism, through blogging, through peaceful organizing, or for simply [believing] in a different religion.”

In the first few months of his campaign, which ran until last July, Rubio highlighted at least two dozen cases of politically-oppressed individuals in North Korea, Cuba, Syria, Pakistan, Iran, China, Venezuela, Egypt, Kenya, Turkey, Bahrain, Vietnam, Azerbaijan, Laos, Ethiopia, and elsewhere. He’s posted at least four on Russians, and called out Putin by name before, something he has rarely done with leaders of the other countries.

“With this effort, we will continue to shine a light on the courageous men and women who risk their lives every day fighting for basic human rights and democratic principles,” Rubio declared in a news release Monday. “While their oppressors may seek to silence them, #expressionNOToppression will serve as a voice for the voiceless.”

 

‘Little’ Marco Rubio holds big cards in Rex Tillerson confirmation

We all remember when presidential candidate Donald Trump stuck Republican opponent Marco Rubio with the label of “Little Marco.”

It’s hard to say if that insult led directly to Trump’s sizable thumping of Rubio in the Florida primary, but it’s worth mentioning because “Little” Marco holds perhaps the biggest card in Trump’s push to confirm Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State.

Rubio sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where Tillerson is expected to appear Wednesday as part of the formal confirmation process. It’s a 21-person committee, with Republicans holding a one-seat majority.

It’s shaping up as a showdown between principle and politics, and the spotlight is on Rubio.

All 10 Democrats are likely to vote against Tillerson, given the ExxonMobil CEO’s close business ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin. That relationship has been a problem for Rubio as well, a fact underscored when Florida’s junior senator tweeted last month: “Being a ‘friend of Vladimir’ is not an attribute I am hoping for from a Secretary of State.”

When Trump tabbed Tillerson to what arguably is the most important non-elected position in his cabinet, Rubio responded with a statement that read in part, “I have serious concerns about his nomination. The next secretary of state must be someone who views the world with moral clarity, is free of potential conflicts of interest, has a clear sense of America’s interests, and will be a forceful advocate for America’s foreign policy goals.”

For good measure, Rubio also has called Putin a “gangster and a thug.”

If Rubio breaks ranks with fellow Republicans, that would likely mean the committee would reject Tillerson’s nomination by an 11-10 vote. It still would be subject to a full Senate vote, but the impact of a thumbs-down in a GOP-controlled committee could be enough to hand Trump a stinging political defeat.

While Rubio has promised to give the nominee a thorough and fair hearing in the committee, you have to wonder what Tillerson could say that would sway his opinion. Rubio certainly has been feeling the heat in advance of the hearing, including a call from former Vice President Dick Cheney urging him to cast a “yea” vote.

A “no” vote likely would make him a pariah with a new president who has been known to hold a grudge.

Voting to confirm, in view of his past statements on Tillerson, could bring an avalanche of condemnation from critics who would label him as Trump’s puppet – and, by extension, Putin. That could make it difficult to take seriously anything Rubio says going forward.

This is shaping up as the most significant moment in Rubio’s political career. How he handles himself in this hearing could cast his image for years to come.

 

Days from inauguration, Donald Trump still owns/controls 500 companies that make up the Trump Organization

President-elect Donald Trump pledged to step away from his family-owned international real estate development, property management and licensing business before taking office Jan. 20. With less than two weeks until his inauguration, he hasn’t stepped very far.

Trump has canceled a handful of international deals and dissolved a few shell companies created for prospective investments. Still, he continues to own or control some 500 companies that make up the Trump Organization, creating a tangle of potential conflicts of interest without precedent in modern U.S. history.

The president-elect is expected to give an update on his effort to distance himself from his business at a Wednesday news conference. He told The Associated Press on Friday that he would be announcing a “very simple solution.”

Ethics experts have called for Trump to sell off his assets and place his investments in a blind trust, which means something his family would not control. That’s what previous presidents have done.

Trump has given no indication he will go that far. He has said he will not be involved in day-to-day company operations and will leave that duty to his adult sons, Eric and Donald Trump Jr. The president-elect has not addressed the ethical minefield of whether he would retain a financial interest in his Trump Organization.

A look at what’s known about what Trump has and hasn’t tried to resolve his business entanglement before his swearing-in:

FOREIGN INVESTMENTS

Trump has abandoned planned business ventures in Azerbaijan, Brazil, Georgia, India and Argentina. The Associated Press found he has dissolved shell companies tied to a possible business venture in Saudi Arabia.

It’s unclear whether those moves are signs that Trump is dismantling the web of companies that make up his business. Trump Organization general counsel Alan Garten has insisted none of the closures is related to Trump’s election. He calls them “normal housecleaning.”

The Trump Organization still has an expanding reach across the globe: The Trump International Golf Club in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, is set to open next month.

Trump has said there will be “no new deals” while he’s in office. But Eric Trump, an executive vice president at the Trump Organization, told Argentinian newspapers last week that the company was open to another business venture in the country.

“We would like to find something,” Eric Trump told Clarin, as he toured a Trump building construction site. “We’ll find a project.”

The younger Trump did rule out expansion in Russia, at least any time soon.

“Is there a possibility sometime in the next 20, 30 years we end up in Russia? Absolutely. Is it right for us right now? Probably not,” Eric Trump said, in a video interview with La Nacion posted on the newspaper’s website.

Asked about the potential for conflicts of interest if the business continues to operate, Eric Trump compared the separation between the Trump-led government and Trump-led company to the separation between church and state. “These two things will be unfailingly separate,” he said, adding, “we will not share functions.”

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DOMESTIC BUSINESSES

Of Trump’s U.S. portfolio, no venture has become more emblematic of the potential conflicts of interest facing Trump than his hotel at the Old Post Office in the nation’s capital. The federal government, which he soon will oversee, holds the lease on the building he turned into a sparkling luxury hotel that opened shortly before Election Day.

The terms of Trump’s contract with the government expressly prohibit elected officials from having a financial interest in the property. Democratic senators said the General Services Administration told them that the moment Trump takes office, he would violate the terms of his contract

Neither GSA nor Trump transition officials responded to inquiries about what steps, if any, Trump has taken with regard to that contract provision.

Trump is still listed as a producer for the reality TV show, “Celebrity Apprentice.” He has said he will not spend time working on the show. Financial disclosures he filed during the campaign show his company, Trump Productions, earned about $5.9 million from “The Apprentice” shows in 2015.

Trump has a considerable amount of business debt that could put creditors in the position of having leverage over an enterprise with close ties to the U.S. president and his family. Last May, Trump reported on his financial disclosure that he had at least $315 million in debt related to his companies. The disclosed debt, mostly mortgages for his properties, is held by banks, including Deutsche Bank and investors who bought chunks of the debt from the original creditors.

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CHARITIES

Last month, Trump announced that he would shutter his charity, the Donald J. Trump Foundation, to avoid conflicts of interest.

The decision came after the foundation admitted in a tax filing that in 2015 and an unspecified number of previous years it violated IRS prohibitions against self-dealing, broadly defined as using charity money or assets to benefit Trump, his family, his companies or substantial contributors to the foundation.

The New York attorney general’s office has said the foundation cannot dissolve until it completes its investigation into whether Trump used the foundation for personal gain. The attorney general’s office has not said whether the investigation will be wrapped up by Trump inauguration.

Eric Trump has decided to shut down his charity, which primarily raised money for St. Jude’s children’s hospital, to pre-empt conflicts of interest. That move came after the younger Trump was found to be offering in a charity auction a coffee date with his sister, Ivanka Trump, who is expected to take a position in the White House.

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FAMILY

Questions remain about how Ivanka Trump and husband Jared Kushner, who is planning to advise the president, will separate from their own businesses.

On Saturday, representatives for Kushner told the AP that he has been talking with the Office of Government Ethics and is exploring taking steps to disentangle himself from his business, The Kushner Companies, in preparation for taking a White House role.

Under those plans, Kushner representatives say he would resign as CEO of the real-estate development business, which has been involved in some $7 billion in acquisitions in the past 10 years.

Kushner would divest “substantial” assets including his stake in a New York City skyscraper that has been the subject of months of negotiations between Kushner and Anbang Insurance Group, a real estate giant with close ties to the Chinese government. Kushner’s negotiations with the company were first reported by The New York Times.

Ivanka Trump, in addition to serving as an executive at her father’s company, has developed a lifestyle brand selling shoes, jewelry and other products. She caught heat after her fine jewelry company marketed the $10,800 bracelet she wore during a postelection “60 Minutes” interview with her father.

Representatives for Ivanka Trump and her companies did not respond to requests for comment about her business plans. In order to take posts in the administration, both Kushner and Ivanka Trump would need to argue that a federal anti-nepotism law that bar officials from appointing relatives to government positions does not apply to them.

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LAWSUITS

Trump also is set to take office while battling a number of lawsuits. The president-elect sat for a videotaped deposition on Thursday involving a dispute with a celebrity chef who pulled out of a deal to open a restaurant at his new hotel in the Old Post Office building. When Jose Andres scuttled his plans for the restaurant citing Trump’s campaign comments about some Mexican immigrants being rapists and criminals, The Trump Organization sued him for breach of contract.

Trump also sued another celebrity chef, Geoffrey Zakarian, for similar reasons.

Trump did act to close out one of the highest-profile disputes, over his now-defunct Trump University real estate school. After his election in November, he agreed to pay $25 million to settle two class-action suits and one by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman that alleged the school misled and defrauded students. Trump admitted no wrongdoing and has yet to pay the fine, according to court records.

Republish with permission of The Associated Press.

Jan. 20, 2017: A day that will live in infamy

When a family member or another loved one dies of natural causes, we understand that death is the price we pay for life. We must accept it and count on memories to console us.

But how do you grieve for your nation? How do you move beyond the death of everything you held sacred about the land of your birth? Whose uniform you wore proudly? Whose virtues you have tried to teach to your children and to anyone else who would listen? When you know that the tragedy owes not to an act of God but to the malice of a man and so many of his supporters? How can you accept this? How can you rationalize it?

For me, Jan. 20 will be the saddest day ever. I don’t think I’m alone in that regard.

Donald Trump is the most undeserving, unqualified, and untrustworthy person ever to seek the presidency, let alone obtain it. He is a clear and present danger to our principles, our economy, our self-respect and our national security.

No one has put that better than J. M. “Mac” Stipanovich, a trusted adviser to two Florida Republican governors, expressed it in a Facebook post earlier this month.

“Ignorant, unprincipled and amoral,” he wrote. That was in reply to a friend who had wearied of “my constant carping” against Trump and had challenged him to state his three “foremost objections” to Trump’s presidency.

There’s no need to try to summarize here the vast evidence of Trump’s unprincipled amorality. Everyone is aware of it, although only some care. In a world bristling with economic rivalries and nuclear-armed powers, Trump’s ignorance is the greater danger than what he might steal.

“I am concerned,” Stipanovich explained, “about what Donald Trump does not know, the fact that he does not know what he does not know and will not listen to those who do know.”

Some Republicans, perhaps most, may relish what Trump will let the Congress do to the Affordable Care Act and to Medicare and Social Security despite his transparently worthless promises to protect them. Some will rejoice in the destruction of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Environmental Protection Agency, and in the neutering of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

But my hope is that there are still members of both parties who understand that character — defined as integrity, trustworthiness, fidelity to principle and fundamental decency — is what America has assumed in its presidents since the Constitution was written with George Washington in mind. It was to prevent the ascension of someone like Trump that the founders opted against direct election. Ever since, Americans and the world have looked to the presidency of the United States as an avatar of America itself. But what do we see now? What does the world see? A braggart, a bully, a libertine, a cocky ignoramus, an infantile personality in the body of a 70-year-old man who has never cared, even once, about anyone or anything other than himself, who breathes contempt for the four freedoms of the First Amendment, who craved the presidency for self-aggrandizement and whose election was sought and applauded by the most vicious people among us as a license to make America hate again. For the first time, Nazis and Ku Kluxers have helped elect an American president. Think about that.

And if that weren’t enough, he is an apologist and sycophant for a murderous foreign tyrant who means to eliminate the United States as an obstacle to reviving the Soviet empire and dominating Europe. John LeCarré, whose novels envisioned a mole secretly subverting British intelligence, never imagined a scenario as wild as that of the cousins, as he called us, being taken over so openly at the very top. The most unenviable job in the United States today becomes that of an intelligence officer who remains faithful to duty and principles.

I don’t know which is more discouraging — that such a person is actually president or that so many people voted for him knowing what he is. That he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by nearly 3 million votes is some consolation but the awful truth is that he is in the White House and the radical Republicans in Congress no longer have anyone there to check their worst ambitions.

The awful truth is that even with Russia’s assistance Trump would not have won but for the racists who haven’t forgiven the rest of us for twice electing a black man, the misogynists who couldn’t abide the thought of a woman president, the cynical opportunists who saw in Trump a reactionary Supreme Court, and the idiots who swallowed Trump’s absurd lies along with the false equivalency the media assigned to Clinton’s mostly decent record and Trump’s utterly deplorable one. These people are not going away, although more of a few may come to regret their votes when their Medicare is sacrificed to the insurance industry, Social Security is sold out to Wall Street, and they’re forced to wait until they’re 70 to begin collecting what’s left.

Is American democracy dead? Can it be resurrected? The answers depend on those of us who do not celebrate Inauguration Day. What we must do, for love of country and self-respect, is to make ourselves heard every day in Congress, and especially in the Senate, where there are still some grown-ups on the majority side, and which can’t be gerrymandered like the House.

We must never, never give up. The United States of America is too precious to waste.

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Martin Dyckman is a retired associate editor of the Tampa Bay Times. He lives in Asheville, North Carolina.

Rick Scott: ‘The citizens of Florida will not tolerate senseless acts of violence’

Calling the shooting at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport a “senseless act of evil,” Gov. Rick Scott on Friday said the state would use every available resource to keep Floridians and visitors safe.

“The citizens of Florida will not tolerate senseless acts of evil,” said Scott during a news conference at the airport Friday. “Whoever is responsible will be held accountable to the full extent of the law.”

Authorities said five were killed and eight were wounded after a lone suspect opened fire at the Fort Lauderdale airport. The gunman has tentatively been identified as Esteban Santiago.

According to The Associated Press, he was born in New Jersey but moved to the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico when he was 2 years old.

Bryan Santiago, the man’s brother, told The Associated Press Esteban Santiago grew up in the southern coastal town of Penuelas and served with the island’s National Guard for a couple of years. He was deployed to Iraq in 2010 and spent a year there with the 130th Engineer Battalion, the 1013th engineer company out of Aguadilla, according to Puerto Rico National Guard spokesman Maj. Paul Dahlen.

“You just can’t imagine how this can ever happen in a state like ours. Think of the innocent lives that were lost,” said Scott. “You can’t imagine how this can happen to any family anywhere in the world, but clearly we don’t want this happening in our state.”

Scott said his No. 1 priority is keeping “everyone that lives in our state, travels to our state” safe.

Scott said he spoke to President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence about the incident. He said has not talked with President Barack Obama. He also dismissed questions about whether the state should take steps to strengthen gun laws, saying it wasn’t the time for politics.

The Associated Press contributed to this report, reprinted with permission.

If Republicans have a better idea to replace Obamacare, let’s hear it

I have a friend who has owned a small restaurant in Tampa for decades. He voted for Donald Trump for two important reasons: Trump isn’t Hillary Clinton, and he hates Obamacare.

Let me rephrase that: He doesn’t like Hillary, but he loathes Obamacare with unyielding venom. Keeping up with its requirements, he said, has been an expensive nightmare. He wants it gone.

Today.

This is a kind and decent man who is all-in on goodness. He is charitable, law-abiding and is happy to lend a hand. So, over several plates of bacon and eggs at his joint, I have deduced that his position can best be summed up like this: He wants his employees and anyone in need to have access to health care, but he despises the bureaucracy and costs imposed by Obamacare.

It looks like he is going to get his way as the Republican-controlled Congress is tripping over itself to defund, defeat and dethrone the signature accomplishment of President Barack Obama’s administration. But then what?

Well, to borrow the infamous quote from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi from 2010 when the Affordable Care Act was coming to life, “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of the controversy.”

That quote was taken out of context and fed to Pelosi for breakfast, lunch and dinner, along with Obama’s vow that people could keep the doctors they liked. That became the rallying cry for opponents, but Trump now basically is saying the same thing – promising Americans that law will be replaced with something great.

While we wait for greatness, consider these Florida statistics from a recent federal Health and Human Services report.

— An estimated 132,000 young Floridians have been able to keep insurance by the provision allowing them to stay on their parents’ policies until age 26.

— It claims premiums grew 1.3 percent annually from 2010-2015, far less than the 8.2 percent of the previous decade.

Hold on just a minute there.

The HHS apparently forgot to include the estimated 25 percent premium hike for Floridians this year. There are many factors for that, especially the fact that far fewer people enrolled in Obamacare than the government projected and fewer insurers are offering coverage now that federal backstops against financial losses have been phased out.

All this sets up as a trap for Republicans in their zeal to end the program, though.

With lower enrollments than expected and the end to the safety net for insurance companies, any plan Republicans pass to replace the ACA probably will come up short of what Obamacare offered.

I can see the attack ads now when congressional seats are up for grabs in two years.

Incoming HHS head Tom Price of Georgia, a ferocious critic of Obamacare, has proposed a plan that would include a series of tax credits, health savings accounts, state grants and so on. Analysists have said Price’s proposal, if adopted, could mean reduced coverage and much higher premiums, especially for older Americans.

Republicans have the votes, for now, to move ahead with something. What that is, though, is anyone’s guess – especially Republicans. After barking their hatred for Obamacare for six years, they have, in the words of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, become “the dog that caught the car.”

Now what?

I know my friend would say to get rid of Obamacare and we’ll out the consequences later.

My take is a little different. I know this makes some people cringe, but I think health care is a right in a civilized society. It’s not something only those who can afford it should have. If Republicans have a better idea, let’s hear it.

After all, as Schumer said, they caught the car. They need to do more than just pee on the tires.

 

Pam Bondi announces website to spread awareness of human trafficking in Florida

Since beginning her tenure as Attorney General six years ago, Pam Bondi has made the combating of human trafficking in the state one of her signature issues. Appearing at Tampa International Airport on Friday morning, Bondi announced the partnership with the airport to encourage travelers to spot human trafficking and report suspicious activity. They can do so by going to a new website, YouCanStopHT.com.

“Thousands of people walk through our airport every single day,” Bondi said. “Partnering with the airport gives us a unique opportunity to spread awareness about human trafficking to thousands of people every single day.”

Bondi said regular citizens can act as the eyes and ears to observing and reporting such transgressions, citing an Uber driver out of Sacramento last week who grew suspicious after picking up a 16-year-old girl (who he originally suspected was only 12) and contacted local police. The teenager was being sold for sex at a Holiday Inn, the police reported, and her eavesdropping Uber driver had saved her. “That is proof that one person…can make a difference if you know what to look for, because sadly it is all around us,” said Bondi.

“The awareness program will be made available for all of our employees,” said Tampa International Airport Police Chief Paul Sireci.

“We’re trying to save that one person who’s drowning out there,” said Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco, who said he wanted to deliver a message to the people who might be sexually trafficked right now: “Your captors are lying to you,” he said, adding that his department only wants to help such victims, assuring them that if they come forward they won’t be going to jail. “You’re a victim. And we’re going to treat you like one.”

And Bondi, who joined a lawsuit with other Republican attorneys general in December of 2014 disputing President Obama’s executive order granting additional protections to millions of undocumented immigrants, said that the undocumented who are being enslaved should not worry about their status if they come out of the shadows.

“That is often how your captor will keep you – by saying we will grab you, and we will deport you, and you are not a victim. That will not happen,” she said, insisting, “We will protect you. We will keep you safe. Because you are a victim.”

Dover House Republican Ross Spano has made the issue of combating human trafficking since being elected to the Legislature in 2012. He said at the news conference that while he didn’t want to “cast any aspersions” regarding Monday night’s national college football championship game in Tampa, but he did say that the ad campaign in Tampa’s airport could only be a plus in trying to heighten awareness this weekend on the issue. Bondi said traffickers bring their victims into cities like Tampa like the NCAA championship game or next month in Houston at the Super Bowl. “That’s why we’re here at the airport.” (Some critics dispute that there are an influx of prostitutes who attend events like the Super Bowl, as this Snopes.com site alludes to).

The state of Florida has over 80 investigations of human trafficking at this time, Bondi said, and over 70 of those cases are active.

Bondi was also asked by reporters about reports about joining Donald Trump’s incoming administration. While she downplayed those reports (which you can read about here), she did say that she has talked about the issue of human trafficking with him, and said that he is “committed to fighting human trafficking in our country.”

 

 

In Tampa, Pam Bondi deflects questions about an impending move to work for Donald Trump

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi attempted to deflect questions about the possibility she may soon leave her job to join the administration of incoming U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday in Tampa.

Speaking at a news conference highlighting a new human trafficking awareness with Tampa International Airport, the Tampa native said, “I’m very happy being Attorney General of the state of Florida right now. I get to work with these great people behind me every day.”

“And,” she added, “I’m also committed to the President of the United States — elect — to make our country a better country, and get back on track.”

On Thursday, Bloomberg’s Jennifer Jacobs reported that Bondi would take a job with the Trump White House, though no particular position was mentioned in the story. It wouldn’t surprise anyone if that were the case, as Bondi was seen visiting the President-elect in Trump Tower last month. She endorsed him at the Tampa Convention Center on the day before Florida’s presidential Republican primary election, an election that Trump won decisively, taking 66 of the state’s 67 counties. With Bondi frequently at his side at campaign events, Trump ultimately won Florida in November over Hillary Clinton by just 1.2 percentage points.

The issue of working under President-elect Trump first surfaced at the news conference at the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority’s board room at Tampa International Airport when Bondi was asked if she would be able to continue her efforts in the White House.

“That’s a good trick question. I can tell you that I talked to the President-elect for half-an-hour. We talk frequently, as well as members of his family and his transition team on many issues that don’t involve me. But he is committed to fighting human trafficking in our country. He is committed to backing up the great men and women standing behind me, and we talk about that very frequently. So whether I’m there or here as Attorney General, where I’m very happy being, by the way, I plan on staying involved in that.”

When asked if she had been invited directly by Trump to join his team, Bondi said: “I’m not going to say anything confidential, nor should anyone, including in the Obama administration.”

When a reporter asked if she had a replacement in mind if she were to leave Tallahassee for Washington, Bondi joked, ” You already have me replaced?”

“I try to be grounded,” she added. “We’re doing a lot of great things.”

If and when Bondi is selected for a position in the White House, both she and Trump will undoubtedly be asked again about the $25,000 campaign contribution that her political committee received in 2013 from Trump’s charitable foundation. Shortly afterward, Bondi’s office opted not to pursue an investigation into charges by some Florida citizens that they had been defrauded by Trump University.

After an ethics group had filed a complaint with the IRS regarding the contribution, Trump’s foundation paid a $2,500 fine to the IRS.

Bondi’s office has been vehement that they never were pursuing a case in Florida against Trump U. Although her office said she had only received one complaint, the AP reported that complaints against Trump University actually numbered in the dozens and that Bondi had personally solicited the donation from Trump weeks before she learned of the charges.

Her office decided not to pursue a case after the donation was received.

A traditional end to an unconventional presidential election

The end of the 2016 presidential election is at hand.

A joint session of Congress is set to count the Electoral College votes on Friday, a traditional ending to a most unconventional presidential election.

Friday’s vote count marks the last chance for Democrats and other anti-Trump forces to disrupt Donald Trump‘s election. But even if they are successful, the most Democrats could do is slow the process because they don’t have the votes to overturn the outcome.

Barring something bizarre happening, Trump will be declared the winner and will be sworn in at his inauguration on Jan. 20. Vice President Joe Biden will preside over the vote count in his role as president of the Senate.

All 538 electors met in their respective state capitals in December to cast their votes. Trump finished with 304 votes and Democrat Hillary Clinton with 227, according to a tally by The Associated Press. It takes 270 Electoral College votes to win the presidency.

Trump won even though Clinton received nearly 2.9 million more votes. His election has generated much angst among Democrats and others who oppose the billionaire businessman. But they have been powerless to change the outcome.

Despite rumblings of a revolt, only two Republican electors — both from Texas — cast protest votes for someone other than Trump. Clinton lost four Democratic electors in Washington state and one in Hawaii.

The secretary of state’s office in Washington said the four “faithless” electors would be fined $1,000 apiece.

During Friday’s session, Democrats will have an opportunity to file objections, questioning the validity of the vote count.

Under federal law, if at least one senator and one House member object to the vote from any state, the House and Senate would meet separately to debate the merits of the objection.

Several House Democrats have talked about filing an objection, but no senator has publicly backed the idea. Regardless, with Republicans controlling both chambers, any objection would have little chance of affecting the outcome.

Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Colo., considered objecting but said, “This is not about trying to stop Donald Trump from becoming president.”

Perlmutter said he wants to register his objection to Russia after U.S. intelligence community findings that Moscow engaged in computer hacking to sway the election in favor of Trump. America’s top intelligence official told Congress on Thursday that Russia undoubtedly interfered in the 2016 presidential election.

“We cannot allow a foreign nation to ever influence our elections because it harms our liberty, freedom and independence,” Perlmutter said in a statement. “This is bigger than just one election, and for the sake of our democracy, we must remain vigilant.”

Trump has not fully embraced the findings of the intelligence community. In fact, he has repeatedly mocked America’s intelligence officials.

This week, Trump went on Twitter to question why an intelligence briefing he is to receive was delayed. However, intelligence officials said there had been no delay. Still, Trump wrote: “The ‘Intelligence’ briefing on so-called ‘Russian hacking’ was delayed until Friday, perhaps more time needed to build a case. Very strange!”

Republish with permission of The Associated Press.

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