Trump Terrible 10: President for Life Edition
Since 2017, Republic Report‘s “Trump Terrible 10” has ranked the week’s 10 most disgraceful figures in Trump world.
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 Trump ever occupying the top spot in the rankings. But we won’t get tired of him winning. Believe me.
10. Steven Mnuchin, Secretary of the Treasury. Last week’s ranking: 8
Mnuchin is known for foreclosing on the elderly as a businessman and, as Secretary of the Treasury, trying to fool the public about tax cuts for the rich, traveling to Fort Knox to see an eclipse, and groping hard currency with his wife Louise Antoinette™. He’s also known for standing by Trump’s side as the president equated neo-Nazis with anti-Nazi protestors and, most recently, defending Trump’s ugly weekend Pennsylvania campaign speech. Asked by NBC’s Chuck Todd why Trump insulted so many people at the rally, including calling NBC’s Chuck Todd a “sleeping son of a bitch,” Mnuchin seemed to be describing a delightful four year old: “The president likes making funny names.” He added, “He’s using these vulgarities in the context of a campaign rally, and, obviously, there were a lot of funny moments in that rally.” Obviously.
9. Ryan Zinke, Secretary of the Interior. Last week’s ranking: 7
His staff says Zinke knew nothing about paying $139,000 for a door for his office, but it was a purchase that helps keep Zinke competitive with fellow climate change denier Scott Pruitt (last week’s ranking: 4) in the personal spending race. Did Zinke also not know that: (1) his senior adviser Kathleen Benedetto, according to documents, held about twice as many meetings with mining and fossil-fuel companies as with environmental groups, and afterwards some of those companies benefited directly from Trump administration actions weakening public lands and wilderness protections; (2) Indur Goklany, a career employee who is connected to the climate-denying Heartland Institute and has said greenhouse gases are “good news,” was tasked by senior Interior officials early in the administration with rewriting the Department’s public positions on climate change; and (3) Scott Angelle, appointed under Trump to be Interior’s director of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, has worked, at the urging of energy companies, to repeal Obama-era safety rules, including regulations issued after the deadly and costly Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico?
8. Ben Carson, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Last week’s ranking: —
Carson, mostly out of the news during this loud administration, may have decided he enjoyed the attention he got over ordering a $31,000 dining room set. A senior HUD official emailed political staff at the Department proposing that HUD’s mission statement be amended, including to eliminate the reference in the existing statement to ensuring that communities are “free from discrimination.” After this proposal was leaked and produced a backlash, Carson wrote to employees, “the notion that any new mission statement would reflect a lack of commitment to fair housing is nonsense.”
Meanwhile, HUD has just hired, for a mid-level job in the office of Community Planning and Development, one Taylor Weyeneth, a 24-year-old former Trump campaign worker. Weyeneth, a 2016 college graduate, had to resign a senior post in the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy after media reports revealing that there were inconsistencies and misstatements on various résumés he submitted to the government and that a partner at the New York law firm where Weyeneth briefly worked said he was “discharged” because he stopped showing up. But I guess we couldn’t send Taylor home, so Ben stepped up.
Also, CNN researchers uncovered that John Gibbs, hired under Carson to be HUD’s director for Strong Cities and Strong Communities and now serving as a senior adviser, spread false rumors over Twitter that Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta took part in a Satanic cooking ritual involving bodily fluids; defended an alt-right commenter who often tweeted anti-semitic statements; and called Democrats the party of “Islam, gender-bending, anti-police.”
7. Boyden Gray, founding partner, Boyden Gray & Associates. Last week’s ranking: —
Some criticized “drain the swamp” Trump for dining with wealthy donors and special interest representatives at the Georgetown home of lawyer C. Boyden Gray, who served in both Bush administrations and now runs a DC “law and strategy firm.” But just as disgraceful as Trump breaking his campaign promises and embracing the swamp is that the swamp embraces back — normalizing, facilitating, and funding a racist, misogynist, incompetent president in order to get the deregulation and tax cuts for the rich that they live to obtain.
6. Erik Prince, principal, Frontier Resource Group, and chairman, Frontier Services Group. Last week’s ranking: —
Prince, founder of the troubling Blackwater USA security firm, brother of Betsy DeVos, and big Trump supporter, reportedly has been trying to get the Trump administration to outsource national defense and intelligence to his for-profit entities. Now Robert Mueller reportedly is investigation whether a January 2017 meeting in Seychelles between Prince and a Putin-tied Russian executive was aimed at setting up a Trump-Russia back channel — and whether Prince told Congress the truth about the encounter, which he said was an impromptu chat over a drink, with no connection to Trump.
5. Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Education. Last week’s ranking: 5
Asked at her confirmation hearing about her wealthy family’s support for anti-LGBT causes, DeVos responded, “I fully embrace equality and I believe in the innate value of every single human being and that all students, no matter their age, should be able to attend a school and feel safe and be free of discrimination.” Yet as Secretary, she is rolling back protections for transgender students.
The DeVos Department also has released new proposals furthering its efforts to gut the Obama gainful employment rule, which would have helped protect veterans, single mothers, and others from predatory practices by for-profit colleges. And it just issued a legal interpretation aimed at blocking states from protecting their citizens against student loan company abuses.
Now Trump has put DeVos in charge of the school shootings commission, even though she seems to know little about those issues, or any other issues.
3. Jared Kushner, Senior Advisor to the President. Last week’s ranking: 2
Having lost his top secret clearance for unspecified reasons — although repeated disclosure failures and shady business conflicts of interest might be relevant — Kushner traveled to Mexico, one of the countries he’s apparently still in charge of, and met with President Enrique Peña Nieto, but reportedly did not invite to the meeting U.S. ambassador to Mexico Roberta Jacobson, a career official with more than 30 years of experience Latin America. No wonder Jacobson has announced her resignation. Meanwhile, Kushner’s team is reportedly putting the finishing touches on a Middle East peace plan, but, especially given the administration’s repeated slaps in the face of Palestinians, senior Trump officials told the failing New York Times that “the most immediate challenge for the White House is how to roll it out so that it is not proclaimed dead on arrival.”
2. Michael Cohen, personal attorney to Donald J. Trump. Last week’s ranking: —
1. Donald J. Trump, President of the United States. Last week’s ranking: Are you serious?
Trump is not as good a crook as he thought he was. Every day it’s more clear he’s made huge mistakes trying to hide evidence of Russia contacts, money laundering, now Stormy Daniels. He’s being humiliated, acting erratically, losing his staff.
Trump’s happy place escape is the big #MAGA rally, and a weekend trip to a hanger at the Pittsburgh airport, supposedly to support the election of some guy for Congress, barely mentioned the guy but instead became the latest K-Tel collection of Trump disgracefulness hits.
“Is there anything more fun than a Trump rally?” Trump asked the crowd, as he: spoke favorably of countries that give the death penalty to drug dealers (“I don’t know that the United States frankly is ready for it. They should be ready for it”); praised ICE agents, “the toughest people you’ve ever seen,” for taking suspects “in Long Island and they grabbed them by the neck and they threw them in the paddy”; again attacked CNN, NBC, and other media; called “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd a “son of a bitch”; bragged twice that he attended the Wharton School (“That’s a great school. The best business school, I think.”); and declared himself better looking than Conor Lamb, the Democratic challenger for the House seat.
Trump also said of 2020, “I’d love to beat Oprah. I know her weakness. I know her weakness. I know her weakness…. I would love it. I would love it. That would be a painful experience for her.” Trump may have moved to DC, but he remains more Walter Winchell than Joe McCarthy.
And Trump claimed, “I’m joking about being president for life,” although he keeps bringing it up.
With his mentor Vlad Putin saying that perhaps it was Jews who hacked the U.S. election from a Russian office building, implying that Russian Jews aren’t Russians, and with his once and future guru Steve Bannon wearing racism as a badge of honor, White Supresident Trump apparently also thought it was time to jump back into his racist game before the adoring Pennsylvanians. He again called Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) “Pocahontas.” And he referred to Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA) as a “very low-IQ individual.”
Trump also said he had won 52 percent of women in 2016, but the actual figure was 41 percent. He got 52 percent of white women.
All that Trump omitted from his remarks was bragging about cheating on his wife with a porn star and then nearly stiffing said porn star, and then his own lawyer, on payment of hush money. Or confirming that he was, reportedly, angry at White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders for messing up and admitting to reporters that Trump he had something to do with David Dennison and Michael Cohen’s nondisclosure agreement with Peggy Peterson.
David Corn and Michael Isikoff report in a new book that Trump also brought his racialism and sensualism to his role as proprietor of the Miss Universe pageant, replacing finalists selected by the judges, according to one staffer, “[i]f there were too many women of color.” Another recalled, “He often thought a woman was too ethnic or too dark-skinned. He had a particular type of woman he thought was a winner. Others were too ethnic. He liked a type. There was Olivia Culpo, Dayanara Torres [the 1993 winner], and, no surprise, East European women.” This staffer also claimed that, on occasion, Trump would toss out a pageant contestant “who had snubbed his advances.”
Manhattan Don’s personal demand that Paul Ryan block the New York Gateway tunnel project (apparently our world’s greatest negotiator thinks this will wring concessions from Chuck Schumer), led to a flustered freakout by Secretary Elaine Chao. When cornered by Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY), who, after tense exchanges, demanded, “Is the president of the United States personally intervening with the Speaker to kill this project?” Chao shouted, “Yes!”
Meanwhile it was documented that the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) sucked up to and enriched POTUS’s company — by $38,000 — by holding their 2017 holiday party at his DC emolument hotel, following an event the same group held earlier last year at Mar-a-Lago (another $38,000). And the Trump Organization reported that it had kept its promise to donate “profits” from foreign governments by giving the U.S. Treasury the princely sum of $151,470 for 2017. The company refused to explain how it calculated that figure, but the tiny amount (barely four RAGA parties) suggests its formula is absurd and renders the promise meaningless.
Finally, after meeting a second time at the White House with NRA officials, Trump issued a school shooting proposal that hewed closely to NRA positions, and he notably abandoned a provision he persistently endorsed at a televised meeting with lawmakers: raising the age for purchasing firearms to 21. He had chided Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) for not including that provision in their bill, taunting that they were afraid of the NRA. So what is Trump now? Trump also announced the DeVos gun commission the morning after his Pennsylvania speech, in which he had mocked presidential commissions as “talk talk talk.”
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.