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Documents show how Trump landed Lincoln Memorial for Fox News event

Documents show how Trump landed Lincoln Memorial for Fox News event
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In the spring of 2020, National Park Service personnel were preparing for an event President Donald Trump was holding with Fox News to address the nascent covid-19 pandemic from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, site of historic protests and inaugural concerts.

But, first, they had to brief Trump on the plans.

“As of now we’re looking at an event at base of Lincoln from 6-8 or so Sunday night. No event in chamber. I will see if that holds once POTUS is briefed later today,” Jeff Reinbold, the Park Service’s superintendent for the National Mall and Memorial Parks, wrote in an April 28, 2020, email to other agency officials.

By the next morning, the virtual “town hall” was no longer to be held at the base, the documents show. Trump’s two-hour sit-down with Fox News anchors would take place inside the memorial’s main chamber, on the landing in the shadow of the marble statue of a seated Lincoln. With the exception of an annual birthday tribute to Lincoln, federal regulations bar events from being held in that area.

The email is among hundreds of pages of newly released government documents that help fill in the picture of how officials from multiple government agencies worked to engineer the event at the Lincoln, one of the many norm-defying moments of the Trump presidency. They show that the Park Service provided security personnel at a cost of nearly $150,000 and that a U.S. Secret Service official apologized to colleagues for the planning process, calling it a “$#!t show.”

After the event, officials noted that the memorial itself — then 98 years old — had sustained scratches and gouges in its pink marble floor, according to a final memorandum.

In the end, the Trump-appointed interior secretary, David Bernhardt, relaxed the rules by finding that the venue was appropriate, given the president’s need to communicate with the American people during a “grave time of national crisis.” That finding has been previously reported.

Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, the executive director of the Partnership for Civil Justice, a progressive group that acquired the documents through a public-records request, said she believes Bernhardt exceeded his authority and allowed Trump to use “the Lincoln Memorial as his stage set.”

“They’re trying to find a way, it looks like, to give him the chamber when there is no legal way to give him the chamber,” she said.

Verheyden-Hilliard’s group often litigates on behalf of those seeking access to public spaces, pressing the government to properly allow free-speech activities and protests along Pennsylvania Avenue and elsewhere.

Mike Litterst, a spokesman for the Park Service, did not address specific questions from The Washington Post. He said in a statement that the agency monitored the activity associated with the town hall, as it does any event not sponsored by the Park Service.

A spokesman for the Secret Service declined to comment. A Trump spokesman did not respond to requests for comment.

Bernhardt said in an interview that he stood by the decision and that government lawyers had approved it. At the time, federal officials and the nation were in the early stages of learning how deadly and transmissible the novel coronavirus was. Mass business closures enacted weeks before had forced layoffs. The unemployment rate had quadrupled.

“I felt that it was an important moment for the country,” Bernhardt told The Post.

On May 3, 2020, at the opening of the town hall, Trump greeted Fox anchors Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum by saying, “We never had a more beautiful set than this did we?” according to a transcript.

The hosts asked about criticism that had already surfaced about the use of the memorial as the site for the event.

“What can you criticize? It’s — I don’t think it’s ever been done, what we’re doing tonight here,” Trump said. “And I think it’s great for the American people to see.”

All presidents use national parks as backdrops for photo opportunities and promotional events, said Kristen Brengel of the National Parks Conservation Association, a nonprofit organization that works to protect the national park system. For his 2009 inaugural, President Barack Obama hosted a concert on the steps of the memorial and was photographed in the chamber. Four years later, he gave a speech on the steps as part of a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech.

But, by siting the town hall inside the memorial, with Fox News, Brengel said, the Trump administration held an event in defiance of federal regulations in a space that is hallowed ground to many Americans.

“This wasn’t a national emergency to do an event inside the Lincoln Memorial,” she said. “This was the commercial use of a park site in the middle of a pandemic.”

On April 28, the day before the event was announced, officials began sharing early information about it with one another, according to the documents. Reinbold told colleagues that it was being planned for the front steps of the memorial and directed a Fox News staffer to apply for the necessary permit.

Reinbold mentioned that the plans could change after they were presented to Trump that day.

Security personnel at the U.S. Park Police and the Secret Service began to make staffing considerations on short notice. A Park Police official justified the need to call in extra officers on the weekend by citing an emergency order issued weeks earlier allowing for “mission critical adjustments” to help the nation respond to the pandemic.

A Secret Service official helping to staff the event apologized for the process. “Sorry this is such a $#!t show. Will have answers shortly,” wrote the official, whose name is redacted in the documents.

The next day, with the event moved into the memorial’s chamber, Fox News would not need a permit after all, Reinbold wrote. He told colleagues it was out of his hands. “They are using the site as a venue and this is not a co-sponsored or NPS event in any way,” he wrote on April 29.

Trump and Fox announced that the event would take place four days later, on a Sunday evening.

Fox News began making arrangements. A Fox staffer sent Park Service officials a photo taken from the 1963 March on Washington, shot from behind Lincoln’s statue looking out at the entrance, that she hoped to replicate.

“We are also looking to achieve the camera shot in the attached picture,” she wrote on April 30.

An inscription marks the spot where King spoke, 18 steps from the top landing of the memorial.

On May 3, Bernhardt issued a “record of determination,” citing the growing pandemic and the need for the president to communicate with Americans as reasoning to allow the event. “In this grave time of national crisis, the Memorial is a uniquely appropriate place from which our President can communicate an official message to the American people,” Bernhardt wrote.

Verheyden-Hilliard rejected the idea that the interior secretary had such authority. “All they are really doing is putting window dressing on something that is clearly illegal,” she said.

In response to questions from The Post, Fox News Media said in a statement that the station had been approached by the Trump administration and “agreed to moderate the May 2020 event in an effort to provide critical information to the American public.”

“The location of the Lincoln Memorial was proposed by the administration and Fox News worked directly with the National Park Service to ensure the production followed every protocol to protect the space,” the company said.

A Park Service memo after the event said the production crew had “generally followed previously agreed to requirements.” But it also said: “Inside the Lincoln Chamber there are several scratches and gouges on the flooring. Photo documentation taken and referred to the park’s senior management.”

No photos of damage were among the documents released. Fox News said it was unaware of any damage. “At no point was the network made aware of any damages as a result of the event,” the company said.

Litterst said in the statement that the damage was “addressed in-house by the park’s conservators.”

In correspondence in the days after the event, about how to respond to reporters’ questions, Litterst made clear to colleagues that he did not want to give the impression that the agency would allow such an event to take place again: “I think it’s a good opportunity to slam the door on anyone who thinks they can make a similar ask to do an interview in the chamber.”

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I’m an entrepreneur who’s landed speaking gigs at events like SXSW. Here’s the exact email I use to pitch myself.

I'm an entrepreneur who's landed speaking gigs at events like SXSW. Here's the exact email I use to pitch myself.
  • Jen Glantz is an entrepreneur and the founder of Bridesmaid for Hire.
  • She’s landed multiple speaking gigs by sending a specific email pitch to event organizers.
  • The email should be brief but detailed — explain your interest and share your expertise, she says.

As a solopreneur, one of the ways I’ve been able to expand my network and build up my credibility has been through speaking at events and conferences and teaching workshops at companies. This has allowed me to share my expertise in a memorable way and establish myself as a thought leader within my industry.

Jen Glantz.JPG

Six years ago, Jen Glantz took the idea of being a bridesmaid for strangers and made it a reality.

Jen Glantz

People often ask me how I was able to speak at events like the SXSW conference, at General Assembly, and at a recent virtual conference for GoDaddy. I don’t have a speaking agent and I don’t get opportunities in my inbox, but my strategy is simple: I spend an hour a month researching conferences and events that are happening later that year. Then, I send the organizers a standard pitch email.

Here’s the exact script I use when I pitch myself as a speaker for different events.

A quick introduction

When people open up an email, you only have a few seconds to impress them and convince them to keep reading the entire message. That’s why I like to start my speaker pitch emails off with a short introduction, summary, and memorable detail. 

Hi [name],

I’m [name]. It’s really wonderful to e-meet you. I’m here in your inbox because I’d love to be a speaker at [name of event] to share actionable, engaging, and unforgettable tips on [topic] with the audience. Why me? I’m [add a few lines about your credibility and what makes you unique]. Plus, [add your fun fact here or a memorial detail that makes you stand out].

A deep dive into relevant experience

Consider your speaker pitch email as not only a first impression, but as a chance to recap your credibility, speaking history, and relevant experience. Your goal is to get the person reading the email to hit reply and get to know you even better. Share three to four sentences that explain more about who you are.

For the past [number of years], I’ve worked in [share details on your industry or career path]. Through that work, [share expertise, key findings, niche topics you’ve studied, projects you’ve started, or accomplishments]. I’ve spoken to audiences that include [list speaking engagements you’ve had in the past].  

A breakdown of speaking topics 

Depending on how much you know about the event, you can pitch a few speaking topics that you think would interest the organizers. If you’re not sure what they’re looking for, share three to four topics that you’ve spoken about in the past and details on each.

I’ve spent time diving into the content of this event and feel my expertise could benefit the audience on the following topics:

  • Public speaking for introverted entrepreneurs approaching sales calls 
  • Personal branding for entrepreneurs without a huge social media following 
  • Social media tips to strategize and engage a growing audience 
  • How to handle investor rejection and turn the no’s into success 

A list of reasons why the audience would benefit 

Besides introducing who you are and what you bring to the table, it’s also important to outline what you’ll share with the audience that will make them feel like they got the most out of the event. To do this, I share a brief list of takeaways that an audience will have after they listen to me speak through direct feedback I’ve had from past speaking engagements.

By the end of my session, audience members will walk away saying:

  • “I now know how to [fill in the blank] better than before”
  • “I received clarity from an expert on [topic]”
  • “I’m feeling excited about what’s next when it comes to [topic]”
  • “This workshop on [topic] was the best one I went to at [event]”
  • “The advice [speaker’s name] shared was unique, practical, and super relevant”

A strong closing

I wrap up my pitch emails with a simple, enthusiastic summary explaining why I want to speak at that specific event and offering to share more information. 

Speaking at [name of the event] is an opportunity I’m truly passionate and excited about, especially because [give a compelling reason]. I’d love to share more information and hear about ways I can design a [workshop, speech, keynote, session] that’s perfect for the audience.

Thank you for your consideration.

All the best,


Pitching yourself as a speaker at an event can feel intimidating. If you approach your initial email with catchy details, credibility, and proof that you’d connect with the event’s audience, you’re more likely to get a response and perhaps even find yourself on their stage.

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How this immigrant landed the top job at a B.C. curling club — without knowing how to curl | CBC News

How this immigrant landed the top job at a B.C. curling club — without knowing how to curl | CBC News

Edelaine Penaflor has never played curling before. She says she’s still learning the winter game. 

“I just know it’s sweeping and throwing some rocks,” she told host Carolina de Ryk on CBC’s Daybreak North. “I still don’t know how you win.”

Despite not knowing how to curl, the 28-year-old immigrant was hired as the executive director of the Fort St. John Curling Club.

She landed the role in August last year, and is now channelling her work experience from the Philippines toward her new role in the northeastern B.C. city.

An immigrant’s journey 

Like many newcomers, Penaflor started the job hunt as soon as she landed in Fort St. John. 

She submitted more than 20 applications for different roles in different industries, she says, because it’s not easy as a new immigrant to work in the same profession as she had in her home country.

After graduating with a degree in hospitality management, Penaflor worked for five years in events management at five-star hotels in Manila, including Sofitel Philippine Plaza and Conrad Manila.

She came to Fort St. John last July with her partner, who is studying business administration at Northern Lights College. Instead of pursuing another degree, she says she wanted to get some work experience. 

Penaflor pictured on vacation in Singapore with her partner, who is studying business administration at Northern Lights College. The couple came to Canada last summer. (Submitted by Edelaine Penaflor)

Penaflor says she found the job posting for the executive director role at Fort St. John Curling Club by chance and decided to give it a try.

“When I was searching for jobs … part of the job description doesn’t talk much about curling,” she said on Daybreak North. “It specified you … need to know events management, which is my background coming from the Philippines.”

“So I told myself, why not try it?”

To her surprise, she got the job.

Penaflor says working at the curling club lets her make good use of the events and sales management skills she honed in the Philippines.

Penaflor, far left, and her colleagues at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza hotel in Manila. She worked as an events management professional for five years before coming to Canada. (Submitted by Edelaine Penaflor)

“We actually have curling, we have a bar, we have a soccer pitch that’s here. We also have a banquet space,” she said of the club. “It’s not just like curling any more — we’re actually serving the entire community.

“What’s helped me in my past experience is I know how to handle the members here … I had good relationships with my clients [in the Philippines], so whenever I would move [between jobs of] hotels, they would go to me.”

5-star hotel experience

According to former club president Kenton Evenson, the Fort St. John Curling Club has to run year-round, so it’s important to have an executive director who can keep the facility busy when there are no curling events in the summertime, especially during the pandemic.

“It’s a huge, empty space of potential, so having somebody that can see that space and sell that space and so … all these organizations can have access to it, that’s something super important,” said Evenson, who was part of the board of directors that hired Penaflor.

Kenton Evenson, the former president of Fort St. John Curling Club, says it’s important for the club to run all year-round by renting out its facilities for events during the summertime. (Fort St. John Curling Club/Facebook)

Evenson says he’s glad someone as experienced as Penaflor took the role, despite her lack of experience with the sport.

“Being able to curl is great — you want people that understand the sport and how passionate people are about the sport, especially in Canada,” he said. “But … the more important thing is how to manage people, how to make sure buildings [are] running.”

“That kind of background was very evident in Edelaine for sure, coming from something as big as a five-star hotel.”

Penaflor says her current priority is to increase revenue for the club by renting out facilities. The curling rink has previously been used as a venue for events, which Penaflor plans to host more of. In the last month, they’ve received requests to host proms and graduation ceremonies at the rink.

Penaflor says she’s enjoying the role so far, as well as living in Fort St. John — despite the extreme cold weather.

“It’s been a great joy to me being with the curling rink,” she said.

“Everyone has been so nice, and seeing that I’m an immigrant and I’m not from Canada, people here who have been here for so long have been very understanding.”

Daybreak North6:52The woman running the Fort St. John curling club still doesn’t understand the sport but loves it anyway

Edelaine Penaflor had never heard of curling, as a sport, before moving to the Peace this summer from the Phillippines. But that hasn’t stopped her from jumping into her job as the Executive Director of the Fort St. John Curling Club. 6:52

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