Wednesday, June 20, 2018



President Donald Trump wrongly blamed Democrats for a Trump administration policy that will separate parents and their young children caught entering the U.S. illegally.

“We have to break up families,” Trump claimed, because of “bad laws that the Democrats gave us.” But there is no such law. Instead, it’s the administration’s decision to criminally prosecute all immigrants who cross the border illegally that will cause children to be separated from their parents.

In early May, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen directed her department to refer all unauthorized immigrants who cross the U.S. border to federal prosecutors. It’s in accordance with the Department of Justice’s new “zero tolerance” policy on illegal immigration at the Southwest border.

Parents would be sent to federal court under the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service and then placed in a detention center, according to a DHS spokesperson. Their children, minors who cannot be housed in a detention center for adults, would be transferred to the Department of Health and Human Services for placement in a juvenile facility or foster care if they have no other adult relative in the U.S. who can take them in.

Trump’s wife, Melania has show concern about the policy.

A number of Republican leaders are starting to speak out against the policy.

See post below where Trump signs executive order ending policy of separation.



Trump signs order to end child separation. Showing that he lied.

"First it was a deterrent. Then it wasn’t.
It was a new Justice Department policy. Then it wasn’t.
The Trump administration was simply following the law. Then it said separations weren’t required by law.
It could not be reversed by executive order. Then it was.
President Trump’s political gambit to force an immigration bill through Congress backfired Wednesday amid a series of wildly contradictory statements — which you can see for yourself in the video above — from a White House that has been without a communications director since Hope Hicks left in March."
The President's use of an executive order to stop separation proves that he lied when he said he couldn't do anything because of a law passed by the Democrats.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Trump's ex-campaign manager back in jail

Witness tampering alleged.

See also the post below re Trump lying about how long Manafort was his campaign manager.

Trump trying to deny ACA coverage for pre-existing conditions

Trump’s assault on ACA care for pre-existing conditions is underway.   Millions  could lose coverage.  This wont effect America’s affluent, but will be a cruel  blow for working class people.


Report on the Clinton e-mail case

The federal DOJ Inspector General's report on the investigation of Hillary Clinton's misuse of e-mails found that there was no evidence of political bias in former Director Comey's conclusion.  Comey was deemed to having been insubordinate in not following policies.  Contrary to what Trump and his supporters say,  The report says nothing about Trump and the collusion and obstruction of justice issues.  It does NOT clear Trump..


It is obvious the Trump administration has a lack of concern about Americas’ poor.  Work requirements make no sense where there are few if any jobs for the poor—which is lots of places.

Just recently,

“Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson proposed far-reaching changes to federal housing subsidies Wednesday, tripling rent for the poorest households and making it easier for housing authorities to impose work requirements.”

Repubs in Congress afraid of Trump.

For decades and decades power been shifting from Congress to Presidents.  This has disrupted the balance of power and constitutional scheme.  Republicans had an opportunity to strike a blow against this but were afraid of agitating Trump.  Is he a President or a dictator?


“Republican senators are afraid of upsetting President Donald Trump in this election year so they are not supporting his amendment that would require Congress to approve of tariffs, Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said in a fiery speech Tuesday.

Corker has been pushing for his amendment, which would be tacked onto the National Defense Authorization Act, to be put up for a vote amid Trump's talk of placing tariffs on imports from certain countries. But Corker said lawmakers do not want to make Trump upset.

"I heard the senator from Texas, the senior senator from Texas, saying the other day, 'well, gosh, we might upset the president. We might upset the president of the United States before the midterms,'" said Corker, referring to Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas. "'So, gosh, we can't vote on the Corker amendment because we're taking, rightly so, the responsibilities that we have to deal with tariffs and revenues, we can't do that because we'd be upsetting the president. The president of the United States.'"

Corker said he is convinced more than 95 percent of Republicans in the Senate chamber would vote yes on his amendment, but they are afraid of what Trump might say about them with the midterms looming.

"'Gosh, we might poke the bear!' is the language I've been hearing in the hallways," Corker said, his voice rising. "'We might poke the bear. The president might get upset with us as United States senators if we vote on the Corker amendment, so we're gonna do everything we can to block it.'"

Some Republicans have finally begun to speak out against the policy of separating parents from children at the border.  When are they going to have the courage to call out Trump for his tariffs which impede free markets and will hurt many American businesses and jobs.  When are they going to speak out about his continual lying?  It’s time for Republicans in Congress to stand up and have some guts.  They are a disgrace to 'the Party of Lincoln.' 

Trump endangers workers at federal prisons

Hiring freeze creates safety hazard.

N.C. trying to re-segregate schools?

“The North Carolina legislature has passed a controversial measure permitting four towns with mostly white populations to create their own charter schools, a move that critics say is intended to promote segregation.

The North Carolina chapter of the NAACP is threatening to sue the state over the law and over a proposed constitutional amendment requiring identification cards at the polls.”

Why does this legislation only invovlve 4 schools with mostly white populations.


Trump told 4 lies about the DOJ IG report on the FBI investigation of Hillary Clinton.

Monday, June 11, 2018

White House changes story on Trump Tower meeting memo

"In a recently disclosed letter to special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, President Donald Trump’s attorneys said the president “dictated” his son’s statement to the New York Times about a June 2016 meeting between top Trump campaign aides and a Russian lawyer.
The admission, in a Jan. 29 letter written by attorneys John Dowd and Jay Sekulow, contradicted earlier claims by Sekulow that the president was not involved in drafting his son’s statement, which gave misleading information about the meeting, and the White House’s later admission that the president gave his input, but did not dictate the statement.
The Trump Tower meeting on June 9, 2016, was arranged by music publicist Rob Goldstone, who sent an email to Donald Trump Jr. saying, “The Crown prosecutor of Russia met with his father Aras this morning and in their meeting offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary [Clinton] and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father.” In agreeing to the meeting, the younger Trump told Goldstone, “[I]f it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer.”
At the meeting, Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, and Paul Manafort, Trump’s then-campaign convention manager, met with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya. There is no publicly available evidence that Veselnitskaya provided any incriminating information about Clinton, as promised by Goldstone, although the Russia investigation, of course, is still active."

See also timeline at

Saturday, June 09, 2018

Trump sounds like dicator--can pardon himself

“President Donald Trump repeated his claim Friday that he has the power to pardon himself, even as he continued to deny any wrongdoing.

“I do have an absolute right to pardon myself,” Trump told reporters as he departed for the G-7 summit in Canada. “But I will never have to do it because I didn’t do anything wrong.”

Special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, as well as whether the president obstructed justice, is entering its second year. 

Trump’s comments Friday follow a similar statement he made on Twitter Monday. “As has been stated by numerous legal scholars, I have the absolute right to PARDON myself, but why would I do that when I have done nothing wrong?” he said. “In the meantime, the never ending Witch Hunt, led by 13 very Angry and Conflicted Democrats (& others) continues into the mid-terms!”


Trump sounds more and more like a tin-horn Central American dictator than a U.S. President.  Trump and his defenders keep spinning their conspiracy theories in spite of a complete lack of evidence.  The rule of law in this country is under serious threat.  No one is above the law, not even the President.  Most legal scholars say Trump has no such powew.. 


Republican speaker doubts Spygate. Plot to 'frame' Trump

WASHINGTON — House Speaker Paul Ryan agreed Wednesday that the FBI did nothing wrong by using a confidential informant to contact members of the Trump campaign as it investigated its ties to Russia, contradicting President Trump’s assertions of a broad conspiracy by federal law enforcement. And he warned that Trump should not try to pardon himself, despite Trump’s assertion two days earlier that the president has the power to take such a step.

“I don’t know the technical answer to that question, but I think obviously the answer is he shouldn’t,” Ryan told reporters. “And no one is above the law.”

Trump has seized on the disclosure of the use of an informant to claim, without evidence, that federal law enforcement officials had improperly placed a spy in his campaign. He demanded a Justice Department inquiry of the matter and dubbed the matter “SPYGATE” in repeated posts on Twitter.

Ryan became the highest-ranking Republican to throw cold water on that interpretation, which Democrats and former high-level law enforcement officials have claimed was an effort to discredit the ongoing investigation into Trump and his campaign. Ryan backed Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., who pursued Hillary Clinton as the chairman of a special select committee on the 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya, but infuriated some Republican partisans by rebuffing Trump on “Spygate.”

In his latest salvo on the Russia probe, Trump’s lawyer — former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani — said Wednesday that special counsel Robert Mueller’s team is trying to frame Trump, the Associated Press reported.

Trump Associates in criminal hot water

List of Trump associates who have been indicted or are under investigation.  Some have already pled guilty.


What kind of person surrounds himself with such characters?  Looks like the ‘swamp’ has gotten worse, not better,  since Trump took over.
See new post on Paul Manafort's new indictment.

Former Trump campaign Chair Indicted again



Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort was  indicted again.  He and a Russian with Russian government connections,  Konstantin Kilimnik, face “ charges of obstructing justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice in connection with what investigators call a secret lobbying scheme on behalf of Ukraine.

The new indictment from the office of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III revolves around alleged efforts by Manafort and Kilimnik to influence potential witnesses. The accusations are part of an effort by Mueller’s office to revoke or revise Manafort’s bail conditions while he awaits trial.”


Has any president ever had former associates indicted?  Not that I can recall. 


Tuesday, June 05, 2018



A conservative Republican from a very conservative state, tells it like it is (Mar. 2018).   All of Trump’s and his lawyers’ blustering about how Trump can pardon himself, it’s not possible for the President to obstruct justice, etc. plus all the complaining about “witch hunts,”  is NOT  how innocent people act.  A person who knows they are innocent would say that they welcome a complete investigation as it will clear their name.  A person who  knows their guilty tries distractions, impugning the motives of people with outstanding records in the law, law enforcement, makes wild claims with no evidence, etc.  These things are exactly what Trump is doing


“Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) urged President Donald Trump and his lawyer on Sunday to stop flailing at special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation and to let the probe continue unimpeded.

"When you are innocent … act like it," Gowdy said on “Fox News Sunday" when asked about Trump's repeated Twitter attacks on Mueller, whose probe has become increasingly perilous to the president and his inner circle. "If you’ve done nothing wrong, you should want the investigation to be as fulsome and thorough as possible." . . .


"The Mueller probe should never have been started in that there was no collusion and there was no crime," Trump tweeted Saturday evening, naming Mueller in a tweet for the first time.

President Donald Trump is pictured. | AP Photo

It's unclear why Trump, who until this weekend largely spared Mueller's probe from attacks, reversed course. But the decision follows the news that Mueller has subpoenaed the Trump Organization for records, a line Trump has previously suggested could be too far.

Gowdy's comments were notable coming from a senior GOP lawmaker who has been deeply involved in the House Intelligence Committee's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. The committee's Republicans concluded last week that they found no evidence Trump or his allies aided the Russian effort, but Gowdy emphasized that their finding was limited because they were unable to interview central witnesses tied up in the Mueller probe. Those witnesses — former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, former national security adviser Michael Flynn and others — have either pleaded guilty or face indictment. Another House witness, former White House aide Steve Bannon, declined to answer many of the committee's questions, Gowdy noted.



Monday, June 04, 2018


“Pain & Profit

Your tax money may not help poor, sick Texans get well, but it definitely helps health care companies get rich”

Years of poor state oversight have allowed companies to skimp on essential care for sick kids and disabled adults”



Health care plans and services provided by, or subsidized by, government exist on the federal level and all state levels.  These programs aim to help those who otherwise cannot get needed medical care.  For profit medical providers  and companies aim to maximize profit. Too often ‘ “big medicine’ interests attempt to minimize government oversight and regulation of their practices and participation in these government programs.When they are successful, their profits go up but the quality of care for many they pretend to serve goes way down.  Poor, working class and middle class people have little political clout.  The medical interests have lots.  Guess who gets the short end of the stick.   Contrary to what Trump and others say, government regulation is necessary in many cases to protect the vulnerable, poor and consumers. Cutting regulations of business are justified by the pretext of improving economic efficiency.  The real motivation is to help make sure that the rich get richer.  If you aren’t wealthy, great!  If you aren’t don’t be a sucker.  Don’t sell yourself out.  Don’t buy into the argument that the purposes of many of these cutbacks on government regulation are done to help the economy.  America has the highest cost medical care in the world.  Yet we don’t rank near the top in quality of care.  You figure it out.

See this Dallas Morning News investigative reporting series about Texas, (but the basic dymanics apply everywhere).



Trade War and Economic policy

The trade wars over tariffs against Mexico, Canada, the European Union and Chine are beginning to heat up as those countries promise to retaliate against Trump’s tariffs.


“Are tariffs wise policy?

“Most economists — Trump’s trade adviser Peter Navarro is a notable exception — say no. The tariffs drive up the cost of imports. And by reducing competitive pressure, they give U.S. producers leeway to raise their prices, too. That’s good for those producers — but bad for almost everyone else.

Rising costs especially hurt consumers and companies that rely on imported components. Some U.S. companies that buy steel are complaining that Trump’s tariffs put them at a competitive disadvantage. Their foreign rivals can buy steel more cheaply and offer their products at lower prices.

In 2002, the administration of President George W. Bush slapped tariffs on imported steel. A study financed by steel-consuming businesses found that the tariffs cost 200,000 American jobs in 2002.

More broadly, economists say trade restrictions make the economy less efficient. Facing less competition from abroad, domestic companies lose the incentive to increase efficiency or to focus on what they do best.”




Changes are needed in law and policy to put  outlaw federally  licensed  gun dealers out of business.     As with background checks, the basic laws and systems are in place.  The laws need  to be enforced more strictly and efficiently.

 WASHINGTON — As they inspect the nation’s gun stores, federal investigators regularly find violations of the law, ranging from minor record-keeping errors to illegal sales of firearms. In the most serious cases, like a sale of a gun to a prohibited buyer, inspectors often recommend that gun dealers lose their licenses.  But that rarely happens. Senior officials at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives regularly overrule their own inspectors, allowing gun dealers who fail inspections to keep their licenses even after they were previously warned to follow the rules, according to interviews with more than half a dozen current and former law enforcement officials and a review of more than 100 inspection reports. . . . For gun dealers to lose their licenses, the A.T.F. must prove they “willfully” violated the Gun Control Act. Violating the law is not enough to justify the loss of a license; inspectors must prove that store owners knew they were acting illegally.

“Other regulatory statutes don’t have that,” said Adam Winkler, an expert on constitutional law and gun policy. “This is part of a larger pattern in the federal gun laws that make it hard for A.T.F. to enforce.”

In the bureau, one former A.T.F. inspector said, that standard was seen as difficult to uphold in court, where dealers would almost certainly appeal the A.T.F.’s decision. That prompted supervisors to overrule inspectors’ recommendations to revoke licenses, said the former inspector, who requested anonymity because he continues to work with the gun industry.

To prove violations were willful, the A.T.F. seeks to establish a record of warnings. In warning letters, senior A.T.F. officials told dealers that violating the Gun Control Act again could jeopardize their license. But a review of A.T.F. records showed that even when stores had received such warnings and continued to violate the law, supervisors let them keep operating.”



Baler gets narrow win in Gay Wedding Cake case. Real issue not decided.

"The Supreme Court on Monday ruled for a Colorado baker who refused to create a wedding cake for a gay couple.
In an opinion by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy that leaves many questions unanswered, the court held that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission had not adequately taken into account the religious beliefs of baker Jack Phillips.
In fact, Kennedy said, the commission had been hostile to the baker’s faith, denying him the neutral consideration he deserved. While the justices split in their reasoning, only Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor dissented.
Kennedy wrote that the question of when religious beliefs must give way to anti-discrimination laws might be different in future cases. But in this case, he said, Phillips did not get the proper consideration.
“The Court’s precedents make clear that the baker, in his capacity as the owner of a business serving the public, might have his right to the free exercise of religion limited by generally applicable laws,” he wrote. “Still, the delicate question of when the free exercise of his religion must yield to an otherwise valid exercise of state power” needed to be done in a setting where “religious hostility on the part of the State itself would not be a factor.”
Basic issue needs to be decided in another case (see bold text).   Stay tuned.

Thursday, May 31, 2018




Lots of folks who support Trump and the current Republican majorities in Congress  claim to be ‘conservative Republicans.’  Conservative Republicans don’t like huge spending bills, engorged deficits, trade wars, and tariffs.  They like stable, long-term trade agreements that have proven beneficial.  They don’t like uncertainty and radical change when it comes to the business world.  Big business, their strongest supporters, don't like it either.

The Washington Post recently complained about Trump’s  talk of tariffs, trade wars, backing out NAFTA, etc.    They are not the only real conservative republicans who are concerned

 “There’s some unease with regard to the administration’s philosophy and policy on trade,” said Sen. John Cornyn, the Senate’s No. 2 Republican. “NAFTA is a good thing. ... Why would we want to ruin this great economic recovery we’ve seen by creating more uncertainty and havoc?”


“Republicans are presiding over an escalation in U.S. indebtedness after years of railing against widening deficits under Democrats.

The GOP’s biggest legislative achievement since President Donald Trump took office was a massive tax cut that congressional scorekeepers expect will add more than $1 trillion to deficits over the next decade, even when accounting for faster economic growth.”

What was written in Forbes magazine (not a source of liberal fake news) in 2009 is even truer today.

The human capacity for self-delusion never ceases to amaze me, so it shouldn't surprise me that so many Republicans seem to genuinely believe that they are the party of fiscal responsibility. Perhaps at one time they were, but those days are long gone.”





Fox News, Republican Chair of House Oversight Committee and others skeptical about SPYGATE


“President Donald Trump has made it clear he likes what he hears on Fox News. The network often covers the president favorably, bringing on conservative commentators that push the president’s agenda and, at times, explore far-right conspiracy theories.

But in an unusual shift Tuesday, three different voices on Fox News pushed back against some of the president’s recent statements. A Fox News guest, commentator and anchor all rebuked claims from the president and his allies that the FBI planted a “spy” in his campaign in an effort to undercut his candidacy.

Outgoing Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., the House Oversight Committee Chairman, said in an interview on Fox News that the FBI was justified in using a secret informant to assist in the Russia investigation. Gowdy, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, attended a classified Justice Department briefing last week over the FBI’s use of the confidential source, identified as Stefan A. Halper.

“President Trump himself in the Comey memos said if anyone connected with my campaign was working with Russia, I want you to investigate it, and it sounds to me like that is exactly what the FBI did,” Gowdy told host Martha MacCallum. “I think when the president finds out what happened, he is going to be not just fine, he is going to be glad that we have an FBI that took seriously what they heard.”

“I am even more convinced that the FBI did exactly what my fellow citizens would want them to do when they got the information they got, and that it has nothing to do with Donald Trump,” Gowdy said. Asked about the president’s tweets on the subject, he added that such statements could be subject to questioning by special counsel Robert Mueller.”





Wednesday, May 30, 2018


Look how things have turned around on the Criminal Deep State. They go after Phony Collusion with Russia, a made up Scam, and end up getting caught in a major SPY scandal the likes of which this country may never have seen before! What goes around, comes around!

Trump has now adopted the ‘deep state’ conspiracy theory to explain why he and his campaign are being investigated.    It was floated earlier by Brietbart News and other sources to try to discredit the investigation into Russsian  involvement in the 2018 Presidential election.
“But what is the so-called “Deep State?”
“To allies of Trump in the conservative media and on Capitol Hill, it is an organized resistance within the government, working to subvert his presidency. They blame career bureaucrats, many of whom they see as loyal to former President Barack Obama, for leaking damaging information to the news media.
But until recently, “Deep State” was a term mainly used outside the United States, and generally associated with authoritarian regimes like Turkey and Egypt. And government experts are skeptical one exists in America.”


For Trump  and his advocates the deep state includes certain high ranking officials at the FBI and Dept. of Justice.  Apparently, the Deep State somehow placed anti-Trump Spies in the Trump campaign.  Other than one professor, who was not part of the administration, asking some Trump campaign officials about Russian involvement, there is no evidence of ‘ spying” by the FBI.   This may not even fit under the term ‘spying.”  This is  a proper investigative technique for  investigating Russian involvement in the  2018 campaign.  There is no evidence that anyone INSIDE  campaign or White House was planted as a spy or ‘mole’  a source for the Mueller or FBI investigations.  “Spygate” is just part of the “Deep State” conspiracy theory. In the alternative, it is an independent conspiracy theory.   These conspiracy theories are just attempts to distract attention from and discredit the Mueller investigation.  These are theories long on speculaton but bereft of any serious factual basis.



Why does Trump so vigorously attack 1st Amendment Freedom of Press? In his own words . . .

Why does Trump so incessantly attack the media and call it ‘fake news.”  His remark from 2016 helps clarify his motivation.

“Stahl said Trump made the remark during a meeting the two had at Trump Tower in the lead-up to her sit-down interview with the then-president-elect and his family in November 2016.

"At one point, he started to attack the press," Stahl told the audience at a journalism awards event at the Harvard Club in Manhattan on Monday evening. "There were no cameras in there."

"I said, 'You know, this is getting tired. Why are you doing it over and over? It's boring and it's time to end that. You know, you've won ... why do you keep hammering at this?'" Stahl went on. "And he said: 'You know why I do it? I do it to discredit you all and demean you all so that when you write negative stories about me no one will believe you.'"

This is not a left-leaning magazine.



Sorry I've been out of touch.  I'll be getting back to this blog regularly.  Thanks for sticking with me.

Here's Trump's Memorial Day tweet



Happy Memorial Day! Those who died for our great country would be very happy and proud at how well our country is doing today. Best economy in decades, lowest unemployment numbers for Blacks and Hispanics EVER (& women in 18years), rebuilding our Military and so much more. Nice!

What a jerk.  Using Memorial Day to blow his own whistle.  I'll bet no prior Pres. has abused Memorial Day like this.  Unfortunately, the man with these ego/narcissism problems is Pres. of the U.S.

Saturday, January 27, 2018





"Celebrities, athletes, pundits and politicians are buying millions of fake followers online. Inside social media's black market.

(New York Times, Saturday, January 27, 2018 11:26 AM EST)

The shadowy business of social media fraud has generated millions of dollars for Devumi, an obscure company that has provided customers with more than 200 million Twitter followers, a New York Times investigation found.

These accounts, known as bots, can help sway advertising audiences and reshape political debates. They can defraud businesses and ruin reputations. Yet their creation and sale fall into a legal gray zone.


With a broad smile and wavy hair. She likes reading and the rapper Post Malone. When she goes on Facebook or Twitter, she sometimes muses about being bored or trades jokes with friends. Occasionally, like many teenagers, she posts a duck-face selfie.

But on Twitter, there is a version of Jessica that none of her friends or family would recognize. While the two Jessicas share a name, photograph and whimsical bio — “I have issues” — the other Jessica promoted accounts hawking Canadian real estate investments, cryptocurrency and a radio station in Ghana. The fake Jessica followed or retweeted accounts using Arabic and Indonesian, languages the real Jessica does not speak. While she was a 17-year-old high school senior, her fake counterpart frequently promoted graphic pornography, retweeting accounts called Squirtamania and Porno Dan.

All these accounts belong to customers of an obscure American company named Devumi that has collected millions of dollars in a shadowy global marketplace for social media fraud. Devumi sells Twitter followers and retweets to celebrities, businesses and anyone who wants to appear more popular or exert influence online. Drawing on an estimated stock of at least 3.5 million automated accounts, each sold many times over, the company has provided customers with more than 200 million Twitter followers, a New York Times investigation found.


The accounts that most resemble real people, like Ms. Rychly, reveal a kind of large-scale social identity theft. At least 55,000 of the accounts use the names, profile pictures, hometowns and other personal details of real Twitter users, including minors, according to a Times data analysi

Jessica Rychly, whose social identity was stolen by a Twitter bot when she was in high school. 

“I don’t want my picture connected to the account, nor my name,” Ms. Rychly, now 19, said. “I can’t believe that someone would even pay for it. It is just horrible.”

These accounts are counterfeit coins in the booming economy of online influence, reaching into virtually any industry where a mass audience — or the illusion of it — can be monetized. Fake accounts, deployed by governments, criminals and entrepreneurs, now infest social media networks. By some calculations, as many as 48 million of Twitter’s reported active users — nearly 15 percent — are automated accounts designed to simulate real people, though the company claims that number is far lower.


In November, Facebook disclosed to investors that it had at least twice as many fake users as it previously estimated, indicating that up to 60 million automated accounts may roam the world’s largest social media platform. These fake accounts, known as bots, can help sway advertising audiences and reshape political debates. They can defraud businesses and ruin reputations. Yet their creation and sale fall into a legal gray zone.


“The continued viability of fraudulent accounts and interactions on social media platforms — and the professionalization of these fraudulent services — is an indication that there’s still much work to do,” said Senator Mark Warner, the Virginia Democrat and ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which has been investigating the spread of fake accounts on Facebook, Twitter and other platforms.


Despite rising criticism of social media companies and growing scrutiny by elected officials, the trade in fake followers has remained largely opaque. While Twitter and other platforms prohibit buying followers, Devumi and dozens of other sites openly sell them. And social media companies, whose market value is closely tied to the number of people using their services, make their own rules about detecting and eliminating fake accounts.


Devumi’s founder, German Calas, denied that his company sold fake followers and said he knew nothing about social identities stolen from real users. “The allegations are false, and we do not have knowledge of any such activity,” Mr. Calas said in an email exchange in November.


The Times reviewed business and court records showing that Devumi has more than 200,000 customers, including reality television stars, professional athletes, comedians, TED speakers, pastors and models. In most cases, the records show, they purchased their own followers. In others, their employees, agents, public relations companies, family members or friends did the buying. For just pennies each — sometimes even less — Devumi offers Twitter followers, views on YouTube, plays on SoundCloud, the music-hosting site, and endorsements on LinkedIn, the professional-networking site.


The actor John Leguizamo has Devumi followers. So do Michael Dell, the computer billionaire, and Ray Lewis, the football commentator and former Ravens linebacker. Kathy Ireland, the onetime swimsuit model who today presides over a half-billion-dollar licensing empire, has hundreds of thousands of fake Devumi followers, as does Akbar Gbajabiamila, the host of the show “American Ninja Warrior.” Even a Twitter board member, Martha Lane Fox, has some.


At a time when Facebook, Twitter and Google are grappling with an epidemic of political manipulation and fake news, Devumi’s fake followers also serve as phantom foot soldiers in political battles online. Devumi’s customers include both avid supporters and fervent critics of President Trump, and both liberal cable pundits and a reporter at the alt-right bastion Breitbart. Randy Bryce, an ironworker seeking to unseat Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, purchased Devumi followers in 2015, when he was a blogger and labor activist. Louise Linton, the wife of the Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, bought followers when she was trying to gain traction as an actress."