President Donald Trump has raised alarms with his authoritarian tendencies — but maybe there’s another word that could be used to describe his anti-democratic urges.
MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” hosted Time deputy managing editor Michael Duffy, who wrote the magazine’s cover story this week on Trump’s first year in office, and USA Today senior politics reporter Heidi Przybyla asked him about the president’s business dealings.
“We’ve talked a lot about 2017, things being autocracy, authoritarianism, but looking forward to 2018, how much do you think the word kleptocracy should start to become part of this discussion?” Przybyla said.
She pointed to her newspaper’s new report Trump companies selling $35 million in real estate last year — mostly to secretive shell companies that Przybyla said opened the president up to influence peddling.
“There could be explanations for this, like people just don’t want their names identified with Trump properties,” she said. “But according to our reporters, there’s a lot of people who say these could be used for influence buying, influence-seeking groups including foreign people who have purchased these properties if we’re able to identify.”
Duffy said the president had already tipped off investigators about how much influence peddling could be going on.
“President Trump told, warned special counsel (Robert) Mueller not to look at his family finances which, of course, was a great big red flag to go ahead and look at his family finances,” Duffy said. “I think that’s another theme here. The extent to which outside of government that Trump and Kushner family finances are in this target set of Bob Mueller at the moment has a kind of existential mind concentrating piece for this White House now. Those are things that have probably never been looked at, and if you put them in the context of foreign policy, that could get really ugly. Kleptocracy is a little different. I think the family’s finances will move front and center this year.”
A veteran teacher explains why Trump is incapable of learning
While dyslexia has been mentioned now and then as one of the reasons Donald Trump is so ignorant of what it takes to govern in a free society, I want to explore it as foundational to his inability to learn and grow while in office—and also as a way to link disparate troubling elements in his makeup.
White House pulls new FEMA nominee for barroom brawl — but not for his boss’ bribery
MSNBC host Rachel Maddow began her Wednesday show detailing that Jeff Byard, President Donald Trump's nominee to lead FEMA, has withdrawn his name from nomination because of an "altercation" previously reported.
Already Trump's FEMA is having problems because of the lead FEMA officials being named in serious bribery scandals. Byard's boss, in particular, is under a 10-count indictment. To make matters worse, a former deputy is also under indictment, but for a completely different case involving a 2013 Navy scandal.
"Any mystery around that part of the guy’s past would have been cleared up this past year in August when he was indicted by a federal grand jury for his alleged involvement in that Navy bribery scheme," Maddow reported. "He was arrested thereafter."
Right-wing activists call on Mitch McConnell to stop blocking election security bills
On Wednesday, CNN reported that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is facing renewed pressure to take up election security legislation, from a pair of unlikely sources: Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist, and FreedomWorks President Adam Brandon.
Norquist — who once famously said that he wanted to slash government to a size where he could "drown it in a bathtub" — called for hand-marked paper ballots, and urged Congress to pass something similar to the bipartisan Secure Elections Act, which would have given states incentives to switch to secure voting methods and promoted data-sharing to identify threats. The measure was first introduced in 2017 by Sens. Kamala Harris (D-CA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), James Lankford (D-OK), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), but never came to a vote.