US News and World Report has published Simon's sixth column, "Trouble Ahead," in his weekly Op-Ed series that will every Thursday or Friday through the end of the year.
Be sure to also read his recent column, "The West Is On the Ballot," in which Simon argues that Trump isn't running just against Clinton, he's also running against what America has become and the world it has built.
An Excerpt from "Trouble Ahead"
Democrats just spent an entire election cycle worrying that a lingering scandal could at any moment do significant, crippling damage to their presidential candidate. And in the end, we were right to be worried.
As someone who just went through this on the Democratic side, I have a message for my buoyant Republicans friends: You have far more to be worried about with President-elect Donald Trump than we ever did with Hillary Clinton. Consider that in just the few weeks since the election, Trump payed $25 million in a legal settlement to thousands of Americans whom he scammed and ripped off; he admitted to illegally using his foundation, which is subsidized by American taxpayers, for personal gain; he appeared to use discussions with foreign leaders to advance his business interests (here and here); and his newly-opened luxury hotel in Washington has rapidly become a potent symbol of the unprecedented legal and ethical challenges the president-elect's global business interests will present.
I'm pretty sure we've ever seen anything like this in modern American history.
But this is just the beginning, and there is certainly more to come. It is my take that there are at least four potential game-changing set of scandals that could alter the course of the Trump Presidency.
To continue reading, please refer to the US News link. You can Simon's previous US News columns here.
The new AP story about Melania Trump proves she and her husband have been lying for years – on camera, in writing – about her immigration path into the United States, and whether she followed the law. The story she been telling is a fable, an imaginary tale as false as the words she spoke at the Republican Convention.
For those interested in pursuing this story further, several questions remain:
Work visas – Trumpworld has never produced or proven she ever had a work visa prior to her getting her green card in 2001. Her on camera descriptions of her returning to her home country to get her visa stamped every few months does not describe any work visa offered by the US government. It was, and remains, common for models to work illegally in the country for years as now know Melania did. Not only did Melania clearly break immigration laws and lie about it, but if she lied about it on her green card application and naturalization documents she potentially committed felony level crimes – serious stuff.
Green Card – Questions remain about her green card. A Trump family lawyer said in an on the record interview with Univision that she received her green card through marriage – which of course would be news. In the recent letter from her lawyer – which we know now contained falsehoods – she claimed to have received an “extraordinary ability” green card. Few experts believe this is possible given that she was never a terribly successful model. It remains my opinion that until we see her actual green card and application – she could release it and her work visas tomorrow – we should assume she received her green card through marriage. It is the only option that makes sense.
Lying – Remember that the questions about her immigration path began when the campaign admitted that she had lied for years about having a dual college degree from a college in her home country, and had in fact gone to college for a year or less. The reason that lying in this case and in the new stories from the AP matter is that if she lied on her green card and citizenship applications she will have committed multiple cases of fraud against the United States government. These are felony level crimes – serious crimes – and if ever fully investigated and prosecuted could lead to the stripping of her citizenship. The AP story also raises new questions about whether Mrs. Trump also committed tax fraud, a new area requiring exploration in coming days.
It should be noted that being in the United States without authorization – undocumented/illegal – is not a federal crime in the United States. So this means what Melania has done is far worse in the eyes of the law than anything a run of the mill undocumented immigrant has done. It is almost certain now that Melania scammed her way into becoming an American citizen.
The Bottom Line – For months the story that has been told about Melania’s path into the United States never really added up. We also now know that the letter her lawyer produced to try to put this thing to bed, which seemed far-fetched and almost ridiculous at the time, cannot any longer be taken seriously. Melania Trump broke American immigration laws. She worked illegally in the United States. She has lied about it for years, as has her husband. And until she produces her works visas and green card, and their applications, we should assume she has also committed serious felony level crimes against the United States.
Simon Rosenberg's statement on Melania Trump's immigration letter:
“Without producing the actual visas or green card application this letter resolves nothing. If they have all the documents, then release them. It is the only way we can answer the fundamental question here which is whether Melania Trump followed immigration law. Failure to release them suggests that they are indeed hiding something, or the narrative they spelled out today is false. It also would have been far easier and quicker to release the actual documents then to have created an outside review. This letter is another case of “believe me” - which is clearly insufficient given that we are talking about possible criminal behavior by the potential First Lady of the United States.
There are additional problems with the letter:
Extraordinary Ability - The claim to have gotten an “extraordinary ability” green card seems improbable given this particular green card's requirements. They are intended for Nobel Laureates or others whose achievements are widely recognized as extraordinary in their field, not middling models. And the most important question remains unanswered by the letter– if she claimed to have a double degree from a university in her green card application she committed fraud, a crime against the United States Government which would put her entire green card/citizenship path becomes in doubt.
It should be noted that the lawyer who produced the letter today is also the one who said on the record in a recorded interview she received her green card through marriage. So one assumes he has recanted his previous public statement about her immigration path into the US.
Questions about the H1B - The reporting by Julia Ioffe and others that she had no regular employer and infrequent work in the late 1990s is again inconsistent with her having been granted a series of H1B visas, or suggests that there were misrepresentations and/or fraud in her applications. It is also not traditionally necessary to return to the home country to renew an H1B, once again calling into question her own recollection of how she lived and worked in the US in the late 1990s.
Finally, the claim that she was never in the US until Aug 1996 has obviously been contradicted by several different eyewitnesses and news accounts.
So, where are we? The letter was well executed and smart. But it resolves nothing. The only way to clear up the question of whether Melania Trump followed immigration law is by releasing her work visas, green card application and green card. Her refusal to do this implies guilt, and this whole episode should be treated as seriously as the Donald Trump’s coming appearance with Dr. Oz."
Additional Resources: Be sure to review Simon's tweets on the topic: here, here, and here as well as his piece, "4 Questions About Melania's Immigration Path Which Still Need Answers".
“Monday Musings” is a new column looking at the 2016 elections published most Mondays. You can find previous editions here.
In recent days, some Trump supporters have indicated that the reported evolution in Trump’s thinking on immigration will focus on ways to ensure that unauthorized immigrations with criminal records become a more significant priority for deportation. Last night on the O’Reilly Factor, Trump confirmed that he is indeed attempting to land in some new place on immigration, though where exactly still remains to be seen.
For those reporting/commenting on this evolving issue in the days ahead it is important to keep a few things in mind:
Deporting Criminals First Has Been USG Policy Since 2011 – In the aftermath of the GOP’s blocking of immigration reform in 2010, the Administration took significant steps to prioritize its immigration enforcement efforts in two areas – border deterrence and those with criminal records in the US. The vast majority of those deported from the US in the years since have fallen into those two categories. If this indeed is the direction Trump is going in, he will be endorsing existing long standing Obama Administration immigration and border enforcement strategies. You can find out more about these changes in US policy in this long brief I did last summer.
This new and smarter policy direction has been successful – flow of undocumented immigrants into the country have plummeted; the number of undocumented immigrants in the country today is less than when President Obama took office; it allows limited federal, state and local law enforcement to focus on more serious criminals both undocumented and those legally here in the US; and those undocumented immigrants without criminal records have far less to fear from the US government and can keep working and contributing to the economy.
It is important to note that since the implementation of this new strategy in 2011, Hispanics in the US have made very dramatic economic gains.
Given the success of this new policy in recent years, it would be wise for candidate Trump to embrace it. But as Greg Sargent reports this morning, his apparent embrace of this approach is in direct conflict with the television ad he is currently running, and more than a year of statements he has made about “open borders” and our ineffective border and immigration enforcement system.
In his new piece, Sargent also reminds us that last night Trump only seemed to endorse Obama’s immigration enforcement priorities. No mention of what to do with the millions of unauthorized immigrants who remain.
House GOP on Record Opposing Deporting Criminals First – In 2013 and again in 2014, the House GOP, led by restrictionist Rep. Steve King, voted to prevent the Administration from using its power of “prosecutorial discretion” to prioritize the removal serious criminals and recent border crossers over those without criminal records. This means that if Trump heads in the direction already embraced by the Obama Administration, he will be breaking from the restrictionist wing of his own Party, and his allies in the Paul Ryan led House. Politically, this is no small matter.
So, yes, lot's still to be learned about Trump’s ugly damned if I do, damned if I don’t dance on immigration.
One of those felons to be deported first might be Mrs. Trump – Last night it was reported that Trumpworld has threatened to sue Politico for their reporting on Mrs. Trump problematic immigration story. Weeks after this story first broke, this threatened law suit appears to be the first official response by the Trump campaign to the growing body of evidence that Melania Trump violated immigration laws. It is not exactly the response many of us were led to believe would be coming from Trumpworld on this important matter.
To be clear – the reporting by Politico, the Washington Post, Univision, Bloomberg and others suggest that Mrs. Trump committed a series of grave immigration crimes that could easily rise to the level of a felony, and even trigger a process that could strip her of her citizenship. Just yesterday Vanity Fair reported that Mrs. Trump committed perjury in a 2013 court case where she repeated some of these same fabrications about her past.
I review the seriousness of what has been reported about Mrs. Trump in this recent post, and once again call upon Trumpworld to immediately release all of Mrs. Trump’s work visas she acquired prior to 2011 and her green card and green card application. The only way for us to know whether Melania Trump followed immigration law is by the release of these and other immigration documents.