September 30, 2017

Trump Terrible 10: Frequent Liar Edition

Trump Terrible 10: Frequent Liar Edition

Will Bob Mueller add the Flightgate investigation to his agenda? I mean, the Russians must be involved somehow.

Since mid-2017, Republic Report‘s “Trump Terrible 10” has ranked the week’s 10 most disgraceful figures in the Trump administration.

Republic Report, which focuses on how money corrupts democracy, has met its abusive dream mate with the kleptocratic administration of President Donald J. Trump. Trump and his lieutenants personify how money and greed, mixed with disrespect for constitutional values, know-nothing ignorance, serious bigotry, and an endless capacity for lying, can really, really corrupt democracy.

Permanent spoiler alert: We can’t imagine anyone other than Donald J. Trump ever occupying the top spot in the rankings. But we won’t get tired of him winning. Believe me.

10. Neil Gorsuch, Associate Justice, United States Supreme Court. Last week’s ranking: — 

This is the first time that Trump Supreme Court pick and dismissive right-wing Reagan-era frat boy Gorsuch has disgraced our countdown, even though his votes on the court positioned him to the right of all the other justices, and would have put him even to the right of Antonin Scalia, whom Gorsuch replaced; and even though Gorsuch was awful loud and nasty to his court colleagues for a freshman justice.

What pushes Gorsuch into our rankings was his choices of venues to make his earliest public speaking appearances as a justice: He accompanied Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to McConnell’s alma mater, the University of Louisville; McConnell was, of course, the man who blocked President Obama from filling the Supreme Court seat that Gorsuch now holds, and then shoved Gorsuch’s confirmation through. Worse, Gorsuch followed up with a speech to a conservative group at the Trump hotel in DC — the same hotel that is the subject of lawsuits claiming that Trump is violating the Constitution by earning income from guests and events there. Such lawsuits may well reach the Supreme Court, and I feel confident predicting whether Gorsuch will recuse himself and which way he will vote.

9. Steven Mnuchin, Secretary of the Treasury. Last week’s ranking: 2

Mnuchin seemed to be keeping a lower profile this week, but he hangs on in the ratings as the father of Flightgate, with his adorable Kentucky jaunt and European honeymoon request; as the co-author of the Cohnuchin tax cut for the rich that would make this entitled 300 million dollar Hollywood producer and slumlord even richer; and as the head cheerleader for Trump’s demand that kneeling NFL players be fired, with his King-like statement that “It’s not about race, it’s not about free speech. They can do free speech on their own time.”

8. Jared Kushner, Senior Advisor to the President. Last week’s ranking: 5

The day after Politico reported that Jared has used a private email domain for some White House business, the New York Times reported, based on accounts of “current and former officials,” that it wasn’t Just Jared; five other senior White House staffers, including Kushner’s wife Ivanka Trump, used private email for official work.

Anyway, private email isn’t really a big deal, and we don’t see why anyone should make a fuss over someone using it. And Jared is a great guy, totally smart, who’s really working to help the country.

7. Gary Cohn, Director, National Economic Council. Last week’s ranking: — 

Ex-Goldman Sachs president Cohn lied about the Trump tax plan he’d crafted, saying on  “Good Morning America” that the plan is “purely aimed at middle-class families,” despite the fact that many middle class families would get a tax increase. Faced with clear indications that Trump and other rich people, by contrast, could get a huge tax cut, Cohn danced around before lying, “The wealthy are not getting a tax cut under our plan.”

6. Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Education. Last week’s ranking: 4

Entitled, sheltered Betsy DeVos has been week-by-week tearing down protections for the victims of predatory for-profit colleges — broke veterans, single moms, people of color, immigrants, who were seeking better lives through education, only to be deceived, abused, and left worse off by greedy, crooked colleges owned by strip mall sharpies and Wall Street barons alike. DeVos has viciously insulted students in the process, like an especially nasty 59-year-old mean girl.

DeVos also doesn’t seem even to care that these predatory schools are ripping off taxpayers to the tune of billions annually, perhaps because she herself has invested in for-profit colleges, and of course, her boss was the head of predatory, unnaccredited (and so unfairly treated by a Mexican judge) Trump University.

Visiting Harvard this week, DeVos refused to meet with a group of former for-profit college students who simply wanted to tell her about their experiences. Her staff said she was too busy. When a student at the Harvard Kennedy School asked DeVos a legitimate question about whether her financial investments in for-profit education posed a conflict of interest, the shill Harvard professor moderator for the event said, “You can choose not to answer that, Secretary.” DeVos ignored the question.

DeVos gets flown around in her personal private plane, which I guess is better than charging taxpayers. As Trump put it, “We have great secretaries and we have some that actually own their own planes, as you know, and that solves that.” But since DeVos is a billionaire, maybe she could have brought enough for everyone. If she’d loaned Tom Price her plane sometimes, he might still be running HHS.

5. Tom Price, former Secretary of Human Services. Last week’s ranking: 7

After his effort to blame left wing haters for Flightgate failed, and with President Trump steaming mad, Price squirmed around and tried to save his job, but only as much as his awful greed and entitlement permitted: He pledged to pay for his seat, and his seat only, on $400,000 worth of private plane trips he took. I doubt he’ll pay even that $51,887.31 bill now that he’s been pushed out, but we should check.

Good riddance to the man who misled Congress about his privileged stock deals, as well as about the GOP bills to trash Obamacare, who was an enemy of women’s health and other important government health efforts. This selfish, arrogant, elitist orthopedic surgeon was exactly who should not be the nation’s Secretary of Health and Human Services.

4. Scott Pruitt, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Last week’s ranking: 3

Pruitt is vying with Ryan Zinke (3 below) to be the Tom Price of Climate Denial.  The entitled Oklahoman has his own shady record that includes fancy charter and military flights (for which he has pre-emptively refused to reimburse taxpayers), additional taxpayer-funded jaunts to his home state, a big security detail that diverts agents who are supposed to be investigating environmental crimes, and a $25,000 cone of silence built in his office.

Meanwhile, as the deadly wrecks of Harvey, Irma, and Maria show what climate change looks like, Pruitt, bound to his polluting patrons, has done nothing but cancel government efforts to fight global warming. He has repeatedly met with executives from fossil fuel industries and thereafter issued decisions benefitting them. And he has spent these stormy weeks making media appearances where he has claimed that discussing climate change now is “very, very insensitive” to victims, attacked his predecessors in the job and other climate advocates, and claimed that he is the true environmentalist.

3. Ryan Zinke, Secretary of the Interior. Last week’s ranking: —

Where to begin with Ryan Zinke this week? I guess with Flightgate, since evidence emerged that Zinke used charter and military planes, including a charter plane, owned by fossil fuel company executives, from Las Vegas to his Montana hometown, and charters between Caribbean islands — all on routes where commercial flights were available. Some of the trips seemed focused on political events, events with donors, and taking some time to relax.

Back in DC, in a speech to an oil industry group, Zinke praised hydraulic fracturing, which has poisoned the water in communities across the U.S. and poses tremendous risks of gas leaks and increased global warming. “Fracking,” he said, “is proof that God’s got a good sense of humor and he loves us.”

Zinke, who in June reassigned many of his agency’s senior employees — for example moving Interior’s chief climate policy expert to the royalty collection division — has, Politico reported this week, named only political appointees, including several ex-industry lobbyists, to a Department committee on personnel issues, ignoring that career staff are supposed to be part of the process.

When Zinke told the oil industry group on Monday that nearly one-third of Interior Department employees are not loyal to him and Trump, he might have been understating matters, depending on your definition of loyalty. Probably more than a third think Zinke is a dick.

2. Roger Stone, presidential crony. Last week’s ranking: —

After a closed-door meeting with congressional investigators to answer questions about his interactions with Russian election manipulators, Stone, who shared a mentor with Trump in disgraceful NY mouthpiece Roy Cohn, rumbled on Twitter with Hillary campaign chief John Podesta and disgustingly raised the Pizzagate child abuse conspiracy theory, which was completely fabricated, thoroughly debunked, and last December nearly got people killed. Journalists should stop finding Stone’s roguish schtick cute. He’s just ugly.

1. Donald J. Trump, President of the United States. Last week’s ranking: duh

By not releasing his tax returns, by not divesting from his businesses, by announcing his phony ethics standards at a phony press event with phony prop folders, by thumbing his nose at the Constitution’s emoluments clauses, by allowing his family business to cash the checks of taxpayers when federal employees stay at his properties while they protect him and his family, by refusing to release White House visitor logs, and so much more, Donald Trump has set the disgraceful lack-of-ethics standard that has led to Flightgate and other blatant abandonment of appropriate behavior by his wealthy entitled cabinet members.

But there was so much more disgracefulness again this week.

White SuPresident Trump continued to relentlessly condemn black athletes who are protesting racism.

Trump went to Alabama and made a disgraceful appearance in which he began throwing supposed Senate choice Luther Strange under the bus mid-speech. On the flight back to DC, Trump yelled at aides who urged him to go, ignoring that the final decision was his. The morning after wacko bigot Roy Moore defeated Strange in the primary, Trump, perhaps in the middle of a long, angry fit, deleted his pro-Strange tweets.

When not yelling at Tom Price for two hours about Flightgate and the Repeal and Replace debacle, Trump was repeating over and over that the reason he didn’t have enough healthcare votes was because one Republican Senator was “in the hospital” — an utterly false statement.

Trump announced his tax plan in a speech by lying that it’s “it’s not good for me, believe me,” even though the lowering of individual and business tax rates, the end of the estate tax, and other provisions would totally benefit wealthy people like him.

Trump, according to a loyal staff member who ratted him out to Axios, “has taken to physically mocking M&M: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (slumped shoulders; lethargic body language) and Sen. John McCain (imitating the thumbs-down of his historic health-care vote).” McCain, in case you missed it, is the decorated, disabled Vietnam prisoner of war who has been diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer and given a prognosis that he says is “very poor.”

Speaking to members of the press, and posting on Twitter, Trump congratulated himself over and over for the “great job” or “incredible job” he’s doing on Puerto Rico, as the 3.4 million people there face day after day of devastating heat, no electricity, and scarce food and water. Trump’s administration seems to be moving assets to Puerto Rico in slow motion, and until Thursday Trump refused to lift the Jones Act restrictions on foreign-flagged vessels bringing supplies to the island, citing the opposition of “a lot of people who work in the shipping industry.” Then Trump left to spend another weekend at his golf club in New Jersey.

UPDATE 09-30-17 10:00 am: Trump posted several disgraceful tweets about Puerto Rico early this morning, attacking the media, Democrats, San Juan’s mayor, and Puerto Ricans in general:

Trump Terrible 10: Frequent Liar Edition

Trump Terrible 10: Frequent Liar Edition

Trump is again number one — the most disgraceful figure in the Trump administration. Trump is not merely a disgrace; he’s a total and complete disgrace.

Vintage disgracefulness:

Trump Terrible 10: Apocalypse Now Edition

Trump Terrible 10: ESPN European Honeymoon Idiot Edition

Trump Terrible 10: Rocket Man Golf Strike BLT Steak Edition

Trump Terrible 10: Pro Sports Nuclear War Edition

This article also appears on HuffPost.