On Tuesday, in response to the news that Defense Secretary nominee Patrick Shanahan is withdrawing over a domestic violence scandal, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow walked through President Donald Trump's catastrophically bad attempts to staff the top levels of the military system — attempts that led to a long parade of people withdrawing in disgrace.
First, Maddow noted, former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort unsuccessfully tried to get a bank CEO he struck a corrupt deal with to the Pentagon — only for that CEO to himself be arrested and charged with a federal crime.
"Don't worry, though, they had a plan 'B,'" said Maddow. "The president found another guy to nominate for that same job ... That announcement, Vinnie Viola, that plan "B" seemed to be going well until this part of that nominee's track record was released by the local police department in Saratoga Springs, New York. A police incident report about the new Trump Army Cecretary nominee punching a guy out at a high-end horse auction in Saratoga Springs ... less than six months before Trump announced him as his plan 'B' nominee to be Secretary of the Army. I guess they didn't Google him."
"That meant it was time for plan 'C' for an Army Secretary," said Maddow. "You might remember that as the brief interregnum where with yet another guy who didn't end up in the job. It turns out he couldn't get the support of Trump's newly appointed Defense Secretary at the time when Jim Mattis was Defense Secretary. Secretary Mattis declined to answer when he was asked if he supported the plan 'C' nominee to run the U.S. Army, a guy named Mark Green ... a doctor from Tennessee who was a self-proclaimed creationist who said on tape, and I quote, 'Transgender is a disease.' He also mused on tape at a Tea Party event about putting down the armed member insurrection in this country."
"Time for plan 'D.' Right?" said Maddow. "His plan 'D' choice, after running through all those other carefully chosen best people, was that he eventually arrived at the top lobbyist for Raytheon. Raytheon, one of the biggest defense contractors on Earth, which means literally its income derives from military contracts ... Put him in charge of the army because, you know, drain the swamp. Well, now today that lobbyist has just been promoted. As of today he's the acting Secretary of Defense."
The Army Secretary office was not the only role Trump struggled to fill.
"They just put in guys who look the part or who, like, somebody said once would be good," said Maddow. "I mean, remember the new VA Secretary we were going to have? Hey, how about Ronnie? Hey, Dr. Ronnie, you happen to be, like, on the plane and within sight when we started talking about needing somebody to run the VA. There you are. Like, handing out the Ambien in the central aisle of the plane."
"And in some ways the implosion today of the Defense Secretary nomination for Patrick Shanahan, in some way this one stands alone in terms of its bloody and personal misery," said Maddow. "But for everything uniquely terrible about this latest personnel disaster and cabinet disaster today with the Shanahan nomination going away, I think it's also important to see this thing that just happened with the Defense Secretary nominee as just one in a long line."
"I mean, honestly, lots of people have criminal histories," said Maddow. "Lots of people have been involved in possibly illegal or shady or violent stuff. Lots of people have been caught cheating or stealing or beating people up. I mean, we're all more than the worst thing we have ever done, but one of the core functions of a functioning White House, that we didn't used to have to even spell out because we thought it was intrinsically obvious, right? ... One of the things a White House at a basic level is supposed to do is make sure people who are compromised in that way don't get high-ranking jobs in the federal government."
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