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Lebanon hit by electricity outage expected to last several days

Lebanon hit by electricity outage expected to last several days. Lebanon has no electricity after the country’s two biggest power stations shut down because of a fuel shortage, a government official has said.

The power outage will continue for a few days, the official added.

“The Lebanese power network completely stopped working at noon today, and it is unlikely that it will work until next Monday, or for several days,” the official said.

The thermoelectric plant has stopped at Zahrani power station, after the Deir Ammar plant stopped on Friday as a result of a fuel shortage.

The official said the state electricity company would try to use the army’s fuel oil reserve to operate the power plants temporarily, but that would not happen soon.

Many Lebanese normally rely on private generators run on diesel, although that is in short supply.

Lebanon has been paralysed by an economic crisis, which has deepened as supplies of imported fuel have dried up. The Lebanese currency has sunk by 90% since 2019.

Donald Trump hid losses of more than $70m at his eponymous Washington DC hotel while he was in the White House, House Democrats said on Friday.

The House oversight committee said the deception was detailed in documents released by the General Services Administration (GSA), which leased the Old Post Office building on Pennsylvania Avenue to the Trump Organization in 2011 and which signed off on its operation of the hotel after Trump entered the White House, just steps away.

Trump has faced wide-ranging questions about alleged self-dealing to his businesses while he was in power.

His Washington hotel became a place for Republicans to be seen and to do business but it suffered under the pandemic and after Trump’s defeat by Joe Biden last November. The Trump Organization is reported to be nearing a sale of the lease.

According to the House committee: “On his federally mandated financial disclosures, President Trump reported that the Trump Hotel earned him over $150m in revenue during his time in office.

“However, the records obtained by the committee show that the Trump Hotel actually incurred net losses of over $70m, leading the former president’s holding company to inject at least $24m to aid the struggling hotel.

“By filing these misleading public disclosures, President Trump grossly exaggerated the financial health of the Trump Hotel. He also appears to have concealed potential conflicts of interest stemming not just from his ownership of this failing business but also from his roles as the hotel’s lender and the guarantor of its third-party loans.”

The committee said that in 2018 Trump received preferential treatment from Deutsche Bank, which allowed him to delay payments on a $170m loan.

“Without this deferral,” the committee said, “the hotel may have needed to pay tens of millions of additional dollars to Deutsche Bank at a time when it was already facing steep losses. Mr Trump did not publicly disclose this significant benefit from a foreign bank while he was president.”

Links between Trump, figures close to him and Deutsche Bank have been scrutinised during investigations of Russian election interference, throughout Trump’s presidency and in its aftermath.

The committee said the bank allowed Trump to defer payments for six years. By that time he would have been out of office even had he beaten Biden in 2020 and any default would perhaps have been less politically damaging.

The committee also said Trump failed to reveal sufficient details of more than $3.7m received from foreign governments, “sufficient to cover over 7,400 nights at the Trump Hotel at the average daily rate” and potentially violating the emoluments clause of the US constitution, which is meant to stop federal officials profiting from their positions.

Trump also concealed debts when he obtained the lease on the Old Post Office from the GSA in 2011, then “transferred millions of dollars in and out of his DC Hotel through affiliated entities and opaque transactions”, the committee said.

The committee chair, Carolyn Maloney of New York, and Gerald Connolly of Virginia, chairman of the subcommittee on government operations, wrote to the head of the GSA.

The documents “raise new and troubling questions about former president Trump’s lease with GSA,” they said, “and the agency’s ability to manage the former president’s conflicts of interest during his term in office when he was effectively on both sides of the contract, as landlord and tenant.

“… This new evidence raises many questions that require further investigation and action by the committee.”

Trump and the Trump Organization did not immediately comment. Trump has said investigations of his financial affairs are politically motivated and without legal merit.

The news comes at a troubled time for Trump and his business interests. This week, for the first time, he was not included in Forbes’ list of the richest 400 Americans.

“If Trump is looking for someone to blame, he can start with himself,” said Forbes.

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Joe Biden has blocked an attempt by former US president Donald Trump to withhold documents from Congress related to the 6 January insurrection at the US Capitol.

Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said Biden authorized the National Archives, a government agency that holds records from Trump’s time in office, to turn over an initial batch of documents requested by a House of Representatives select committee investigating the riot.

“The president’s dedicated to ensuring that something like that could never happen again, which is why the administration is cooperating with ongoing investigations,” Psaki told reporters. “The president has determined that an assertion of executive privilege is not warranted for the first set of documents from the Trump White House that have been provided to us by the National Archives.”

A mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol in a failed effort to prevent the certification of Democrat Joe Biden’s presidential election victory, resulting in five deaths. More than 600 people now face criminal charges stemming from the riot.

In August a House select committee investigating the insurrection requested various records, including communication within the White House under Trump, his movements and communications that day and information about planning and funding for rallies held in Washington.

Trump’s legal team sought to deflect some of the requests by invoking executive privilege, a legal doctrine that protects the confidentiality of some communications between White House officials.

But in a letter to the archivist of the United States, the White House counsel, Dana Remus, wrote “these are unique and extraordinary circumstances” and the documents “shed light on events within the White House on and about January 6 and bear on the Select Committee’s need to understand the facts underlying the most serious attack on the operations of the Federal Government since the Civil War”.

The decision, which affects only the initial batch of documents reviewed by the White House, sets up a potential showdown with Trump, who has repeatedly downplayed the events of 6 January and sought to recast the rioters as “patriots”. The Guardian reported that he plans to sue to prevent release of the documents if necessary.

On Friday, the former president responded with a letter to the National Archives that formally claimed executive privilege over about 50 documents requested by the select committee.

Trump’s letter stated: “In cases like this, where Congress has declined to grant sufficient time to conduct a full review, there is a longstanding bipartisan tradition of protective assertions of executive privilege designed to ensure the ability to make a final privilege assertion, if necessary, over some or all of the requested material.”

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The ex-president added in a statement that “Radical Left Democrats” were “trying once again to use Congress to persecute their political opponents”. He claimed, without evidence, that the 6 January committee “is about using the power of the government to silence ‘Trump’ and our Make America Great Again movement, the greatest such achievement of all time

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