Trump has been ramping up his “Deep State” rhetoric again. He’s back to blaming a cabal of bureaucrats, FBI and CIA agents, Democrats, and “enemies of the people” in the mainstream media, for conspiring to remove him from office in order to allow the denizens of foreign shi*tholes to overrun America.
But with each passing day it’s becoming clearer that the real threat to America isn’t Trump’s Deep State. It’s Trump’s Corrupt State.
Not since Warren G. Harding’s sordid administration have as many grifters, crooks and cronies occupied high positions in Washington.
Trump has installed a Star Wars Cantina of former lobbyists and con artists, including several whose exploits have already forced them to resign, such as Scott Pruitt, Ryan Zinke, Tom Price, and Michael Flynn. Many others remain.
When he was in Congress, the current White House acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney pocketed tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from payday lenders, then proposed loosening regulations on them. Trump appointed Mulvaney acting head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, of all things.
When he was Trump’s special adviser on regulatory reform, Wall Street billionaire Carl Icahn sought to gut EPA’s rule on ethanol credits which was harming his oil refinery investments.
Last week it was reported that a real estate company partly owned by Trump son-in-law and foreign policy advisor, Jared Kushner, has raked in $90 million from foreign investors since Kushner entered the White House, through a secret tax haven run by Goldman Sachs in the Cayman Islands. Kushner’s stake is some $50 million.
All this takes conflict-of-interest to a new level of shamelessness.
What are Republicans doing about it? Participating in it.
Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, who also happens to be the wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, has approved $78 million in grants for her husband’s home state of Kentucky, including a highway-improvement project that had been twice rejected in the past. Chao has even appointed a special liaison to coordinate grants with McConnell’s office.
Oh, did I say, McConnell is up for reelection next year?
News that a Cabinet secretary is streamlining federal funding for her husband’s pet projects would be a giant scandal under normal circumstances. But in the age of Trump, ethics are out the window.
Congressman Greg Pence, who just happens to be the brother of Vice President Mike Pence, has spent more than $7,600 of his campaign funds on lodging at the Trump International Hotel in Washington since he was elected in November, although federal election law forbids politicians from using campaigns dollars to cover housing costs.
The Corrupt State starts with Trump himself, giving new meaning to the old adage about a fish rotting from the head down.
When foreign governments aren’t currying favor with Trump by staying at his Washington hotel, they’re using state-owned companies to finance projects that will line Trump’s pocket, like China’s $500 million entertainment complex in Indonesia that includes a Trump-branded hotel.
Trump claims the Deep State allows foreigners to take advantage of America. The reality is Trump’s Corrupt State allows Vladimir Putin and his goon squad to continue undermining American democracy.
“I’d take it” if Russia again offered campaign help, Trump crowed last week, adding that he wouldn’t necessarily tell the FBI about it. Just days before, Trump acknowledged “Russia helping me get elected” the first time.
Despite evidence that Russia is back hacking and trolling its way toward the 2020 election, Republican defenders of Trump’s Corrupt State won’t lift a finger.
Mitch McConnell refuses to consider any legislation on election security. He and Senate Republicans even killed a bill requiring campaigns to report offers of foreign assistance to the FBI and federal authorities.
The charitable interpretation is McConnell and his ilk don’t want to offend Trump by doing anything that might appear to question the legitimacy of his 2016 win.
The less charitable view is Republicans oppose more secure elections because they’d be less likely to win them.
Trump and his Republican enablers are playing magicians who distract us by shouting “look here!” at the paranoid fantasy of a Deep State, while creating a Corrupt State under our noses.
But it’s not a party trick. It’s the dirtiest trick of our time, enabled by the most corrupt party in living memory.
A telling moment from the impeachment hearing suggests Trump has an insurance policy on Mike Pence
Why don't Republicans just give up and cut Donald Trump loose? That question has been on the minds of most political observers since the beginning of Trump's presidency, and it's only grown more intense in the wake of scandal after scandal after scandal, in which the lying, cheating, grifting, thieving sleazebag who bigoted his way into the White House continues to make fools of everyone who supports and defends him.
How can honest people possibly be bored by impeachment hearings?
Some of you know I used to teach a course at Yale on the history of presidential campaign reporting. My students read classics like The Making of the President (the 1960 election), Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail (1972), What It Takes (1988), and McCain’s Promise (2000, based on David Foster Wallace’s long essay “Up, Simba”).
For background, I read other books, like Game Change (2008), Double Down (2012) and even 08 (a graphic novel rendering of Michael Crowley’s trail diary). When reading the books as a canon, one thing I noticed—actually, I could hardly avoid noticing—is that campaign coverage increasingly became writing about campaign coverage itself.
House impeachment inquiry may help restore the political and social norms that Trump flouts
President Donald Trump regularly uses blatant violations of long-established social and political norms to signal his “authenticity” to supporters.
Asking foreign countries to investigate and deliver dirt on his political opponents, which prompted an impeachment inquiry in the U.S. House of Representatives, is the most recent example in a long string of norm-shattering behaviors. Other examples of flouting the standards of his presidential office include defending white nationalists, attacking prisoners of war, abusing the use of emergency powers, personally criticizing federal judges and much more.