MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough bashed the Trump administration’s consumer watchdog for laying out pay-to-play ground rules for banking lobbyists.
Mick Mulvaney, the White House budget director and interim director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, told bakers and lobbyists that he expected campaign contributions from as a congressman — and the “Morning Joe” co-hosts were mortified.
“We had a hierarchy in my office in Congress,” said Mulvaney, who represented South Carolina in the U.S. House. “If you’re a lobbyist who never gave us money, I didn’t talk to you. If you’re a lobbyist who gave us money, I might talk to you.”
The Republican former lawmaker did say that he met with constituents “without exception,” regardless of campaign support.
“Do you believe this quote?” Scarborough said.
“He just says it out loud,” co-host Willie Geist marveled.
Scarborough, also a former GOP lawmaker, said he stayed away from lobbyists during his time in Congress and instead tasked his staffers with taking those meetings.
“I know it sounds stupid, but this is the right thing to do,” he said. “I’m not going, you know, I’m not sticking my neck out on the line because somebody gave me a check.”
Mulvaney’s remarks will surely be used against GOP candidates in the midterm elections and against Trump in his re-election campaign, Scarborough said.
“You start looking at these Cabinet members, the 30-second commercial, they’re going to have to be 60-second commercials or maybe 30-minute infomercials, if you combine what Mulvaney said with what’s happening at the EPA, with what’s happening across the entire administration,” Scarborough said.
“This is a corrupt administration that talked about the president, talked about draining the swamp — this administration is the swamp,” he added. “You can’t find in recent American political history, another administration that has been as ethically challenged as this one.”
Geist agreed that Trump’s Cabinet officials had set a new standard of unethical behavior, and Democrats would surely turn their conduct into a campaign issue.
“The ads will be, if you put (EPA administrator Scott) Pruitt in there with all the stories we’ve had over the last couple of weeks, if you have Ryan Zinke raising the flag while he’s in residence like he’s the Queen of England, it starts to sound very swampy,” Geist said.
Republican strategist Susan Del Percio said Mulvaney’s remarks were bad, even in context.
“We are now seeing like a poster of swamp creatures,” Del Percio said. “I mean that’s what I think it is — it’s Donald Trump and the swamp creatures.”