It’s no secret now that the Trump administration is for sale.
President Trump said as much last week in a conversation with the ABC-TV anchor George Stephanopoulos. He said he would accept information from a foreign government or foreign nationals that would help him in the 2020 presidential election and he would not notify the FBI.
“This is somebody saying, ‘We have information on your opponent.’ Oh, let me call the FBI,” Trump taunted Stephanopoulos. “Give me a break. Life doesn’t work that way.”
The FBI director, Christopher Wray, says that’s what should happen, Stephanopoulos pointed out.
Trump was unmoved, “The FBI director is wrong,” he shot back.
But the FBI director isn’t wrong. It’s the law. Christopher Wray states it clearly: “If any public official or member of any campaign is contacted by any nation-state or anybody acting on behalf of a nation state about influencing or interfering with our election, then that’s something that the FBI would want to know about.”
Trump backtracked the next day after being told how dumb he was to say what he said to an open microphone.
But, as he’s shown again and again, Trump’s philosophy is anything goes.
Trump himself has made many millions during the more than 29 months that he has been president. He made a profit of $35 million last year from his real estate sales, and last month he got a $6.5 million profit from an Indonesian billionaire for a Beverly Hills mansion Trump bought in 2007 for $7 million.
He and his administration hold the all-time record for the most unscrupulous and corrupt administration in U.S. history. The two most corrupt previous administrations have been those of presidents Warren G. Harding and Ulysses S. Grant (Grant himself wasn’t corrupt, but his cronies had outdone everyone else until TrumpWorld came along).
The Trump administration has gone far beyond any of them. Those previous administrations and what they did were small potatoes compared to what the Trump administration has done and continues doing.
Dr. Ben Carson, Trump’s secretary of housing and urban development, refurbished his government office with fine gold (at least it would seem so for what it cost); Scott Pruitt, who made pollution worse before he was bounced out of his job at the Environmental Protection Agency, wasted nearly $124,000 of our money because he enjoyed first-class travel; Ryan Zinke, Trump’s secretary of the interior, struck a juicy land deal with the politically connected oil giant Halliburton; Tom Price, the secretary of health and human services billed taxpayers $341,000 for his flights on chartered jets and military aircraft; Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said he sold a stock but held onto it for his profit; Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta can’t live down an arrangement for signing off on a sweetheart deal with a flagrant child-sex offender; Trump strategist Kellyanne Conway is under scrutiny for multiple violations of the Hatch Act.
Trump, with his own predilections, has no interest in policing this sort of bad behavior among his cabinet heads and aides. In the corrupt administrations of the past, the scandalous spending of taxpayer dollars was a one-way ticket out of government. But it’s taken a drumbeat of public opinion to get so many hucksters out, and there are always more to come.
The list of violators is so long that MSNBC commentator Rachel Maddow filled three walls with it in the background behind her desk.
And now comes Transportation Secretary Elaine Chou, who is married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and created a special path of influence through the Transportation Department for projects her husband favored in his home state of Kentucky. Chou has heavy sway over such transportation projects, and she also has used her influence to advance the interests of her rich industrialist family back in China.
Yes, it’s true: In TrumpWorld, from the boss on down, everything’s for sale.