* Carol Leonnig, Rosalind Helderman, and Tom Hamburger report that Matthew Whitaker’s involvement in that scam patent company was deeper than we knew:
Months after joining the advisory board of a Miami-based patent company in 2014, Matthew G. Whitaker began fielding angry complaints from customers that they were being defrauded, including from a client who showed up at his Iowa office to appeal to him personally for help, records show.
Yet Whitaker, now the acting attorney general, remained an active champion of World Patent Marketing for three years — even expressing willingness to star in national television ads promoting the firm, the records show.
Internal Federal Trade Commission documents released Friday in response to a public records request reveal the extent of Whitaker’s support for World Patent Marketing, even amid a barrage of warnings about the company’s behavior.
The FTC eventually filed a complaint against World Patent Marketing, accusing it of cheating customers and falsely promising it would help them patent and profit from their inventions, according to court filings. Some clients lost their life savings, the agency alleged.
In other words, it was Trump University for patents. Just the kind of integrity we want in an attorney general.
Six White House officials violated a federal law that prohibits public employees from conducting political activity in their official roles when they used their official Twitter accounts to send or display political messages supporting President Trump, according to the federal agency that enforces the law.
The six employees — which included members of the press office — deleted their social media posts once they were told they had violated the Hatch Act, the Office of Special Counsel said Friday. As a result, federal investigators issued warning letters rather than taking disciplinary action and advised that similar social media activity in the future will be considered willful violations of the law that could result in further action, according to Erica S. Hamrick, deputy chief of the Hatch Act unit.
The White House officials who were reprimanded were principal deputy press secretary Raj Shah; deputy director of communications Jessica Ditto; Madeleine Westerhout, executive assistant to the president; Helen Aguirre Ferré, former director of media affairs; Alyssa Farah, press secretary for Vice President Pence; and Jacob Wood, deputy communications director for the Office of Management and Budget.
It’s true that nobody ever gets prosecuted for Hatch Act violations. But this is the kind of thing that in every other White House, everyone knows not to do.
* Kurt Bardella looks at the members House Republicans have chosen to defend Donald Trump at all costs. They will be fun to watch next year.
* Rep Raúl M. Grijalva argues that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is unfit for office, and must step down.