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Sunday, May 07, 2017

A hundred million dollar lie

by digby

James Dodson has played golf since childhood. As a reporter and author he’s won numerous awards for his writing about the game, and he has been associated with many of golf’s greats. He co-wrote Arnold Palmer’s memoir.

That’s no doubt why Dodson was sought after as a playing partner and luncheon guest by the man who said until quite recently that one of his primary jobs was making golf great again.

'Donald Trump Loves Your Books'

Though they hadn’t met, Dodson was aware of the fellow’s impact on the game.

"I knew Trump was very interested in golf," Dodson says. "I knew he was buying up golf courses. His M.O. was to find a financially distressed property, buy it, keep it in bankruptcy, do a half-a-million-dollar renovation, fire the entire staff and hire a third back."

So James Dodson, who grew up a Republican but currently describes his political stance as "radical centrist," knew that. And maybe he thought that’s all there was to know about Donald Trump. But that was before they’d met. Which, as I’ve suggested, wasn’t Dodson’s idea.

"This PR guy kept calling me and inviting me," Dodson says. "And he kept saying things like, 'Oh, Donald Trump loves your books.' And I kept saying, 'Donald Trump doesn’t read books, I’m told. And he hadn’t a clue who I am.' Anyway, he called three or four times. Finally, I said yes."

That was three years ago. And Dodson probably wouldn’t have regarded the invitation as an imposition if he hadn’t had other plans. Dodson and his wife had arranged to visit Arnold Palmer at Palmer’s home in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. From there, the Dodsons were headed to Scotland for some golf. Joining Donald Trump at his new course in North Carolina meant juggling those plans.

But, at his wife’s urging, Dodson agreed to leave their home in Southern Pines, North Carolina, and drive to Charlotte, site of the recently reconstituted Trump National Golf Club Charlotte, in order to meet with The Donald, who was not the only star attraction.

"Greg Norman was gonna show up, and he and Trump were gonna play the first nine of the course," Dodson explains. "I was gonna play with Eric, his son, a local congressman and the guy I assumed was his bodyguard. And then we would swap at the nine holes. I would play with Trump and Greg, and then we would have a big lunch and hear all about the club."

When the big day arrived, a dark, gray sky provided the first sign that all would not go as planned. Dodson was a little late arriving, and by the time he entered the Trump National Charlotte clubhouse, his host was already holding forth.

"Trump was strutting up and down, talking to his new members about how they were part of the greatest club in North Carolina," Dodson says. "And when I first met him, I asked him how he was — you know, this is the journalist in me — I said, 'What are you using to pay for these courses?' And he just sort of tossed off that he had access to $100 million."

$100 million.

"So when I got in the cart with Eric," Dodson says, "as we were setting off, I said, 'Eric, who’s funding? I know no banks — because of the recession, the Great Recession — have touched a golf course. You know, no one’s funding any kind of golf construction. It’s dead in the water the last four or five years.' And this is what he said. He said, 'Well, we don’t rely on American banks. We have all the funding we need out of Russia.' I said, 'Really?' And he said, 'Oh, yeah. We’ve got some guys that really, really love golf, and they’re really invested in our programs. We just go there all the time.' Now that was three years ago, so it was pretty interesting."

Well, yeah. It is.

'Ask Me Anything You Want'

Shortly after that conversation took place, James Dodson and Eric Trump teed off behind the foursome that included Donald Trump. And shortly after that, the promise of those clouds was fulfilled.

"A bolt of lightning literally hit a house, and the rains came down, and we raced in our carts back to the clubhouse," Dodson says. "And, truthfully, I thought, 'I’m going to be able to clear out of here now. This will be great.' And I’m loading my clubs in the back of my car, thinking I can get an early start back to Southern Pines for our trip to Latrobe. And this kid comes running out: 'Mr. Dodson! Mr. Trump really wants you to come in and have a cheeseburger.' And I said, 'OK, I’ll do it.' And that kid pointed out they were 'really, really awesome cheeseburgers.'"

At lunch Trump continued to celebrate the virtues of the Charlotte course and those of various other courses he’d bought or was about to buy.

And the cheeseburgers ... they were awesome, tremendous, right?

"You know, it was — it was a cheeseburger," Dodson says. "It was a platter of cheeseburgers."

Dodson listened politely to Trump’s celebration of what he’d wrought, and when he’d finished his cheeseburger …

"I said, 'Well, I gotta go.' And Trump hopped up, and he said, 'Well, I’ll walk you to the door,'" Dodson recalls. "And he took my arm, a real bro hug, and we’re crossing this long room, and he says, 'You’re the one that writes all the books.' And I said, 'Well, I’ve written a few.' And he said, 'I haven’t read 'em. Because I really don’t get much chance to read books. But I write books. Have you read my books?' I deadpanned. I said, 'Yes, they’re all stacked up on my bedside table. I haven’t gotten to them yet.' But he didn’t seem to get the joke. And we’re walking in this bro hug. I mean, very snug, and he’s a big guy. And he said, 'So, you’re a journalist. You didn’t get to ask me any questions. Ask me anything you want. I’m the most open interview you’ve ever had. I’ll tell you anything. Straightest talker you’ve ever met.'"

Dodson tossed his host a couple of batting practice questions about golf courses. Then he tried a change-up.

"So," Dodson continues, "I said, 'Ah, are you going to run for president again?' 'Yeah, yeah, I’m thinking about it,' he says. 'You know, everywhere I go, people say to me, "Trump, Trump, this country is totally f-ed up. You need to run for president. You’re the only guy that could straighten it out. We need a businessman."' And he says, 'What do you think? I oughta run?' And I said, 'You’d be fun to follow.' So he said, 'Yeah, yeah. Let me tell you. I’m thinking of doing it. And he said, 'And I'll tell you what: I’ll let you know if I do it.'

"Now we’re at the door. And he’s still got me in the bro hug. And he says, 'Come on, those are nothing. Those are softballs.' And he says, 'One more for the road. Give me something with some mustard.' And this is what I said: 'Well, OK, fair enough. My wife and I watched The Apprentice for the first time the other night in preparation for coming over here. And, honestly, the question that kept popping up in my head is: are you as big an a--hole as you seem? Or do you just play one on TV? And this is what he did. He dropped my arm like it had caught fire spontaneously, stepped back at least a yard, made that kind of constipated furious pig face he makes, slapped my back, doubled over and popped up laughing like you can’t believe and declared, 'Yeah, it’s fun, isn’t it?'

Read on for Arnold Palmer's view. Let's just say he wasn't really a fan although Trump thought they were bffs.

Great story about Trump. But it's the russian thing that's interesting, no?

Trump is a big liar so you can't assume he was telling the truth there either. But it's certainly possible this was true, particularly since Don Jr said the same thing at the time.

Oh, and by the way, the Chinese are investing heavily in the Kushner family, mostly because the Kushner family is over there selling them on the idea that it's a good investment.

Because of this:

And, keep in mind that Trump won by calling Hillary Clinton "crooked" after the New York Times and the Washington Post went into business with Steve Bannon to spread that meme among the people:

In April 2015, Politico reported that the “New York Times, The Washington Post and Fox News have made exclusive agreements with a conservative author for early access to his opposition research on Hillary Clinton, a move that has confounded members of the Clinton campaign and some reporters.”

As ThinkProgress detailed last year, Clinton Cash cited a fake press release and relied on circumstantial evidence to make a case that the Clinton State Department traded favors for donations to the Clinton Foundation and speaking fees for Bill Clinton. Other outlets highlighted a number of additional errors in the book ranging from Schweizer falsely inflating Bill Clinton’s speaking fees to overstating the power then-Secretary Hillary Clinton had to prevent Russia from buying a company with uranium mining operations in the United States. Margaret Sullivan, then the public editor of the Times, questioned her paper’s arrangement with GAI in a April 2015 blog post, writing that even though there was no financial arrangement with Schweizer, “I still don’t like the way it looked.”

Nonetheless, in August, the Times reported that the FBI used the book as the basis of an investigation into the Clinton Foundation that didn’t go anywhere.

Last week, the Post reported that Bannon, co-founder of GAI, accepted $376,000 in pay from the 501(c)3 non-profit since launching it in 2012. Schweizer, meanwhile, received $778,000. The report also confirmed that “Post reporters have used the institute as a resource for investigative leads.”

Instead of fact-checking, the Times and Post ignored Clinton Cash’s errors Schweizer’s history of inaccuracy and amplified the book’s anti-Clinton innuendos — material Trump himself used to attack Hillary, win the presidency, and empower white nationalists like Bannon. Now, in the wake of a campaign where fake news outperformed legitimate reporting, the country’s two largest papers are left penning editorials condemning Trump for elevating a man whose flawed work they amplified.