Investigative reporter and biographer of President Donald Trump, David Cay Johnston, explained that there is so much corruption in the White House under his leadership that he never fully learned that he can't use companies as an extension of himself.
"If you or I go on a reporting trip and find a lamp we'd like to buy for our living room, we know you don't put that on your expense account," Johnston explained. "Donald doesn't think that way. There is no staff in his -- 'what's the business, what's the government.' It's all him, and that is why he sees nothing wrong at all with what I think are very clear violations of the Emoluments Clause with the money he is receiving through the businesses from foreign governments and these aren't foreign governments that are casually stopping by and having a cup of coffee somewhere."
He went on to cite the countries who rented out full floors at Trump's hotels, the president's pitch to host the G7 Summit (which has now been canceled) at his property in Florida, and the military's use of Trump Turnberry as a stopping-off point in Scottland for "refueling."
"Trump's company applied to trademark the term 'telerally,'" noted MSNBC host Joy Reid. "He's trying to make money out off of and having a television rally. That sounds insane, but is he not just teaching future presidents that this is like a, you know, the $475,000 you get paid, that's nothing. You can get rich doing this!"
Investigative reporter David Fahrenthold explained that for presidents prior to Trump, it had been a kind of "honor system," and people would do the right thing because that's what president's should do. With Trump, the system has become more about trying to get away with whatever he can.
"Trump's been really good at exploiting the honor systems," he continued. "He comes into a system where everybody obeys the rules because they worry about how it looks, about what's right and wrong, and he doesn't pay attention to those things. He reaps a huge advantage by doing a thing the people don't expect. There's not a lot of conflict of interest laws. It's sort of what that president believes is right and what the public and voters will tolerate. He's gone a long way down, violating his owns promises about what he would do. If he gets thrown out of office this year, and people think that the way he chose to mix his and his presidency was part of that, maybe it's his message to future presidents. Maybe it's if you do this, you can get away with it, at least for your first time."
Reid agreed, noting that if someone has "no honor," then you can't have an "honor system." She also noted that Trump is teaching others how to do it with people like Brad Parscale making millions of MAGA donors as well as people like Matt Gaetz, who was caught funneling taxpayer dollars to his pals for a "home studio" so he can do television appearances.
"Well, if he wants to spend his own money and have a studio, I'm fine with that," said Johnston. "But taxpayers absolutely not. And this is spreading from Trump. I mean like the virus, hop-scotching across the country on jetliners. Trump's immoral abuse of taxpayers is spreading throughout the administration."
He went on to cite the private jets being used by Trump's secretaries to carry them to lavish island getaways for "conferences." Taxpayers funded a pair of tactical pants for one secretary. Secretary Mike Pompeo made taxpayers fund staff for his wife and host dinner parties with powerful people all over the world. It's a continuation of the Trump scheme.
Reid closed by calling it "breathtaking corruption."
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