Credit: The White House/Flickr

News about Trump’s malfeasance is reaching such a volume that any analysis is nearly superfluous. There are no hidden mysteries to tease out, no nuances to explore. It’s the sort of situation that gives an opinion writer like me impostor syndrome: anyone could take a look at the news and do my job. Things are exactly what they appear to be, and any attempt to make them seem otherwise would be doing a disservice to readers in the service of a hot take.

In many ways, it’s easier for a writer to focus on the Democratic side of politics these days because the disagreements within the left are much more interesting and open to interpretation. But Trump? His story is somehow, at the same time, engrossing and shocking. Yet it is also depressingly dull—like watching the initial stages of a trial against a dumb, reckless mafia don. Did he do the bad thing? Yes. Oh look. Here’s another bad thing. Oh look again, another witness pointing out another crime.

So it is today. The four big stories are all of a piece. First, Trump capo John Kelly wishes he had stayed on longer with the goal of preventing some of the more stupid crimes, having warned his boss that investigators would close in—which they have.

Second, it appears that the Trump administration handed a company tied to Trump’s brother a $33 million contract in a decision reeking of illegal nepotism.

A company in which President Trump’s brother has a financial stake received a $33 million contract from the U.S. Marshals Service earlier this year, an award that has drawn protests from two other bidders, one of which has filed a complaint alleging possible favoritism in the bidding process.

The lucrative government contract, to provide security for federal courthouses and cellblocks, went to CertiPath, a Reston, Va.-based company that since 2013 has been owned in part by a firm linked to Robert S. Trump, the president’s younger brother.

After the contract was awarded, an anonymous rival bidder filed a complaint with the Justice Department’s office of the inspector general alleging that CertiPath had failed to disclose that “one of the President’s closest living relatives stood to benefit financially from the transaction,” according to a copy of the July 22 complaint letter obtained by The Washington Post.

Third, it appears that Trump may have ordered the federal government to illegally steer a government contract away from Amazon on a $10 billion Pentagon computing contract because of his disagreements with Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who also owns the Washington Post.

A new biography of former Defense Secretary James Mattis reports President Donald Trump personally got involved in who would win a major $10 billion contract to provide cloud computing services to the Pentagon, according to the website Task & Purpose, which writes about military issues.

That hotly contested contract was awarded to Microsoft on Friday evening over Amazon in a months-long battle.
Task & Purpose reports the new book, “Holding The Line: Inside Trump’s Pentagon with Secretary Mattis” by former Mattis speechwriter and communications director Guy Snodgrass recounts that Mattis always tried to translate Trump’s demands into ethical outcomes.
According to Snodgrass’ book, Trump called Mattis during summer 2018 and directed him to “screw Amazon” out of the opportunity to bid on the contract.

Finally, the president’s fixer lawyer is in even deeper than previously known with his just-arrested Ukrainian clients accused of illegally funneling foreign campaign contributions to Republicans from shady sources in exchange for even shadier favors.

These are all bits of pathetic corrupt behavior more in keeping with low-level mafia organizations or tinpot dictatorships. In one sense, it makes for compelling news. It would be more interesting if it wasn’t exactly what it looks like. What’s there to say that hasn’t already been said?

The country deserves some accountability here. When an openly corrupt and criminal cabal has overtaken the federal government, simply refusing to re-elect them is not enough. There must be justice, both while they’re in office and afterward as need be. It’s a cold, boring take. But it’s the right one and the only one that matters.

David Atkins

Follow David on Twitter @DavidOAtkins. David Atkins is a writer, activist and research professional living in Santa Barbara. He is a contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal and president of The Pollux Group, a qualitative research firm.