Trump Terrible 10: Manafort Indictment Edition
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.
This morning, Trump 2016 campaign chairman Paul Manafort entered the FBI field office in Washington DC, reportedly having been ordered to surrender in connection with a criminal indictment by not-yet-fired special counsel Robert Mueller. The dominos may start falling. But the disgracefulness is likely to go on for a long, long while.
Permanent spoiler alert: We can’t imagine anyone other than Donald Trump ever occupying the top spot in the rankings. But we won’t get tired of him winning. Believe me.
10. Sebastian Gorka, former Deputy Assistant to the President. Last week’s ranking: —
Dumped from the White House staff this summer for being too bigoted and incompetent even by Trump administration standards, Gorka addressed phony charges that Hillary Clinton corruptly sold uranium to a Russian firm by suggesting on Fox News’s “Hannity” that Clinton should be executed for treason: “If this had happened in the 1950s, there would be people up on treason charges right now. The Rosenbergs, okay? This is equivalent to what the Rosenbergs did, and those people got the chair. Think about it.” We did think about it, and welcome back to the disgracefulness countdown, idiot.
9. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, White House Press Secretary. Last week’s ranking: 8
Following up on her atrocious assertion last week that it was “highly inappropriate” for a reporter to question a demonstrably false and defamatory attack on a Member of Congress by the White House chief of staff because he’s a four star Marine general, Sanders, asked this week by a reporter if the “official White House position” is that all of the some sixteen women who have accused Donald Trump of sexual harassment or assault are “lying,” replied, “Yeah, we’ve been clear on that from the beginning, and the president’s spoken on it,” and then rapidly turned to take another question.
Sanders also tweeted this completely false charge: “The evidence Clinton campaign, DNC & Russia colluded to influence the election is indisputable.” I can’t imagine a more disgracefully phony statement by a White House press secretary. OK, I probably can.
8. Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Education. Last week’s ranking: —
It turns out that when Betsy DeVos hasn’t been trashing protections for veterans, single moms, and other students against Trump Universityesque scam for-profit colleges; or suggesting that those students are the scam artists; or weakening protections for victims of campus sexual assault; or making a large percentage of her K-12 school visits to religious and charter schools, rather than to the traditional schools that educate the bulk of American children, the Secretary of Education has taken a lot of extended weekends at her various resort homes. I would wish DeVos never came in to her office at all, but no doubt the former for-profit college executives whom she’s hired to staff the department would go ahead and execute her disgraceful agenda anyway.
7. Roger Stone, presidential crony. Last week’s ranking: —
Last seen on this list resurrecting the disgusting “PIzzagate” attack on Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, Stone, with the first Mueller indictment imminent, got himself banned from Twitter with an Insane tirade of ugly, obscene, bigoted attacks directed at Don Lemon, Jake Tapper, Ana Navarro, Carl Bernstein, Charles Blow, Bill Kristol, and others. Mocking Mueller’s investigation, and CNN’s reporting on it, Stone also tweeted, “Breaking: Mueller indicts @PaulManafort’s driver for double parking,” and ““Breaking: Mueller indicts @PaulManafort’s maid for tearing labels of sofa cushions.” He also emailed reporters that Mueller should be “prosecuted for his crimes.”
6. Ryan Zinke, Secretary of the Interior. Last week’s ranking: —
See my article last week entitled “Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke Is A Disgrace“: scam PACs; suspicious $300 million Puerto Rico contract for Whitefish neighbor; charter planes; personal flag; abuse of staff. On Friday, after meeting with Zinke, Trump approved the Secretary’s recommendation to shrink, by millions of acres, two national monuments in Utah, including the first national monument created to honor Native American culture — a move that Rhea Suh, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, called, without any prodding from us, “a disgrace.” Zinke’s is one of the most blatantly ugly performances by a cabinet member ever.
5. John Kelly, White House Chief of Staff. Last week’s ranking: 9
General Kelly has offered no apology to Gold Star widow Myeshia Johnson or to her family friend Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL) for his ugly and blatantly false attacks on them during the week that Sgt. La David Johnson was laid to rest. Kelly’s angry, unaccountable approach stands in sharp contrast to the honest leadership of Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
4. Scott Pruitt, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator. Last week’s ranking: 2
Pruitt continued his efforts to hand over U.S. environmental policy to the fossil fuel and chemical industries, blocking EPA scientists from speaking at a conference addressing climate change, while continuing to increase spending on his travel, paranoid office soundproofing, and 24-hour security detail. Meanwhile, in a disgraceful rejection of accountability, the former American Chemistry Council official who is now Pruitt’s EPA spokesperson refused to answer a New York Times reporter’s legitimate, detailed questions about changes to the agency’s policy on toxic chemical issues and called the paper’s journalism “elitist clickbait.”
3. The Koch brothers, the Mercers, ExxonMobil, Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo, Equifax, payday lenders, for-profit colleges, and all the other wealthy, swampy special interest beneficiaries of the corrupt, destructive Trump presidency, and their lackeys Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan. Last week’s ranking: —
Some of the working people who believed Trump’s lies will figure this out.
2. Paul Manafort, former Trump campaign chairman. Last week’s ranking: —
We’re likely to see shortly what criminal charges Robert Mueller has brought against Manafort and his business associate Rick Gates. But we know Manafort has left a trail of shady dealings with pro-Russian oligarchs, lobbying for foreign powers, and buying a lot of real estate with his celebrity-crazed son-in-law. Suggestion for federal magistrate: Lock him up.
1. Donald J. Trump, President of the United States. Last week’s ranking: duh
On Wednesday, the President of the United States told reporters, “I went to an Ivy League college. I was a nice student. I did very well. I’m a very intelligent person.” In fact, it seems you were not such a nice student. But more to the point, why do you feel compelled to say things like this? You were elected president, and you’re a fucking moron. That’s accomplishment enough.
OK, just for starters, Donald Trump chose an alleged money launderer, who took millions in secret payments from pro-Russian oligarchs, to be his campaign chairman.
As new evidence emerged indicating that Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya did indeed present Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Manafort with material from the Russia government purporting to contain dirt on Hillary, as the email to Don Jr. had promised, Trump declared on Twitter, “It is now commonly agreed, after many months of COSTLY looking, that there was NO collusion between Russia and Trump. Was collusion with HC!” “Commonly agreed”?
Trump proceeded to peddle the phony Hillary uranium story to reporters and on Twitter, and he personally pressed to lift a gag order on an informant regarding Russia’s uranium effort — a breach of the standard practice that the White House stay out of Justice Department criminal investigations.
Trump doesn’t seem to want to impose sanctions on Vladimir Putin, the leader he never colluded with. After our president dragged his feet over the summer on signing the Russia sanctions law, the Administration failed to meet the law’s October 1 deadline to actually impose the sanctions, and took steps last week only after congressional pressure.
Among this week’s domestic disgraces: After saying how awful the opioid crisis was during the campaign, and promising to declare a National Emergency, Trump instead declared a Public Health Emergency, which means he didn’t add any new funding to the fight, but he called it a “National Public Health Emergency” to try to fool everyone. Only people familiar with Sid HoffFrenchman will be impressed.
Asked about the sixteen women who allege that Trump sexually abused or assaulted them, Trump convincingly told reporters, “it’s totally fake news. It’s just fake. It’s fake. It’s made-up stuff, and it’s disgraceful, what happens, but that happens in the world of politics.” It is disgraceful.
As his Trump Organization proceeded with new real estate projects in India, raising yet more conflict of interest concerns, the president played fast and loose with the modest nest eggs of regular Americans. He tweeted, regarding the GOP tax plan, “There will be NO change to your 401(k),” but when a reporter confronted him with evidence that House leaders were considering just such cuts, Trump said, “Maybe it is and maybe we’ll use it as negotiating.” So the GOP leadership will threaten wavering members that they’ll cut 401k benefits, but everyone already knows that Trump will never accept such a cut anyway? Trump seems not to understand the, um, art of the deal.
But the man does understand the art of being awful. Our president tossed muted insults to the journalist parents accompanying their Halloween costumed kids to the Oval Office. “I cannot believe the media produced such beautiful children,” Trump said. When one little girl gushed over Hershey’s Kisses, Trump sized her up and said, “And you have no weight problems. That’s the good news, right?”
So Trump covered weight, but he didn’t neglect height. He again referred to his antagonist Tennessee senator as “Liddle’ Bob Corker,” with that weird apostrophe. Trump really needs to get asked next time he faces reporters, “Mr. President, Can you tell the children of America why you think it’s appropriate to make fun of a person’s height?”
To ensure his congressional scorn was bipartisan, Trump honored the sacrifice of Sgt. Johnson by calling his family friend “Wacky Congresswoman Wilson… the gift that keeps on giving for the Republican Party….” He also continued his effort to contradict and discredit Myeshia Johnson, tweeting, “I had a very respectful conversation with the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, and spoke his name from beginning, without hesitation!” Why should we believe Trump, when General Kelly explained to the world why Trump said what Ms. Johnson claims he said? Trump told reporters he had “one of the great memories of all time.” Of all time. He added, “I was extremely nice to her.”
From his multiple tweets, Trump obviously thought it was super cool that he was in charge of the JFK assassination files — one of the few times he’s actually seemed interested in his work. Sure, it combined his love of conspiracy theories with his love of reality show reveals. But then Trump bowed to a last-minute CIA request and kept concealed, on national security grounds, a bunch of 55 year old documents pending another six months of review. When I worked on the staff of the Senate Intelligence Committee, I helped write the 1992 law mandating the release of all remaining JFK files by 2017, absent extraordinary concerns. The CIA had 25 years to get ready, yet Trump granted another homework extension. Sad!
This article also appears on HuffPost.