The corruption scandals emanating from the White House are coming faster than even news junkies can process, much less the general public. Worse, it’s not even hidden. It’s all right out in the open.
Let’s take a quick look. First, Trump has committed to protect a Chinese firm, ZTE, that has been deemed a potential security threat. He is doing this against a fierce bipartisan backlash. Why? Trump and the White House literally won’t say. But the recent Chinese investment of $500 million into a Trump hotel in Indonesia right before Trump’s decision might have something to do with it:
Trump’s tweets, in other words, aren’t picking a side in an internal disagreement about trade policy. At least, they aren’t just doing that. They appear to involve overruling his whole national security team’s assessment of ZTE’s role in the world. And it happened with no explanation, no background briefing, and seemingly no consultation with the relevant officials.
But it also happened the same week a Chinese state-owned company came through with hundreds of millions of dollars in loans, some of which will go to facilitate the construction of Trump-branded properties in Indonesia.
The White House has no other credible explanation. It’s just out in the open.
Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency led by oil lobbyist Scott Pruitt has been actively colluding with climate science deniers, even going so far as to speculate internally about whether to simply ignore all climate data in making decisions on behalf of Republican-connected coal and oil firms. Scott Pruitt himself, of course, is a one-man personal corruption racket as well.
Trump’s daughter and son-in-law have inexplicably been granted top-level security clearances despite an open-and-shut case of influence-peddling, bribes and obstruction of justice by Qatari officials on the Trump Organzation’s behalf.
The president’s blatant lies about an FBI informant used to counter Russian meddling and protect the Trump campaign from Putin’s incursions led to no less than two meetings between the Justice Department and various officials yesterday, only for it to be confirmed that nothing untoward took place. Even GOP Senate Leader Mitch McConnell admitted as much. Nonetheless, Trump continues to pretend he was vindicated, and his TV lawyer Rudy Giuliani is trying to obstruct justice using a ridiculous “fruit of the rotten tree” defense.
None of this even gets into multiple rounds of breaking news about openly corrupt dealings between various Russian, Israeli and other officials subverting democracy on Trump’s behalf with various members of his campaign team during the election in exchange for future policy concessions. Or the ongoing mess with Stormy Daniels, about whom Trump and his own attorneys continue to give contradictory statements, or the ongoing controversy over whether GOP donor Elliott Broidy took the fall for Trump in an abortion hush money payout to a Playboy model in exchange for government contract kickbacks. Or the fact that various diplomatic groups continue to hold meetings at Trump hotels in the hope of administration considerations, and no one even bothers to bat an eye anymore.
And none of that even touches actual Republican policy, including and especially the Trump Administration’s single major legislative accomplishment: a massive, budget-busting tax giveaway to the very wealthy.
In any previous administration, just one of these dozens of scandals would have been enough to grab endless headlines and lead to impeachment proceedings. The press has been struggling to keep up with the monumental self-dealing involved, but it’s difficult for the public to comprehend the sheer scope of the criminality involved because it seems too coldly nefarious to be believed. People assume that politics is dirty to a certain extent and tolerate it as such, but in this country we’re not used to a single family leveraging the entire apparatus of the state for pure self-enrichment, and openly colluding with multiple hostile powers to do so. So the press reports on all of this as if it was an abnormally dirty but fundamentally legitimate government, and the public is numbed by a barrage of stories into a state of collective shock.
But it’s not so much the fault of the public or the press as it is of Trump’s Republican allies. At least until a new Congress is seated in January 2019, there is nothing Democrats can do to hold the Trump family accountable outside of make considerable noise. The levers of accountability are all in Republican hands, and Republican legislators are either afraid of Trump’s base, or actively working with him to strip mine the country.
So the looting continues unabated in the open light of day, there is no depth to which the Trump family will not sink in their amoral greed, and to our collective horror there is no one of moral character with the will or power to stop it.