. . . and perhaps McMasters and Kelly. Or Sessions.
But it’s Jared – and Ivanka – who should get the hell outta there. Jared wowed and wooed businessmen at the White House, then got them to loan him money to save his family’s failing real estate business.
Slate says this: “Walking conflict of interest Jared Kushner intermingled his public and private personas while camped out in the West Wing, according to a New York Times report Wednesday that appeared to show Trump’s son-in-law using his position in the White House to preserve his real estate business interests. The Times reported two instances over the past year where Kushner met with executives from financial companies at the White House and then later secured hundreds of millions of dollars in loans from those companies.”
Now, that just doesn’t seem legal. And his sister was traipsing around China, tossing around Jared’s WH status and offering facilitated VISAs for favors to the family business. And then there’s Ivanka’s jewelry and Melania’s QVC page. It would be funny, but. Well, it’s too #sad.
Trump is having a meltdown, firing off conflicting policy statements and bullying his staff like never before. Making poor Hope Hicks cry for her “white lies” comments (wonder if he gave Kellyanne the same verbal whoop-ass over “alternative facts?), calling Jeff Sessions “Mr. Magoo,” enforcing crippling tariffs, telling lawmakers he wants to seize guns before due process (!), and completely ignoring Putin’s videotaped threat to drop a nuclear bomb on Florida. That was just the last 48 hours. Unless you’re living in a bubble, or only watch Fox “News,” then you’re witnessing a rare chaos event in motion.
The Washington Post describes:
The ceaseless barrage of news — both real and fake — from the Trump administration can be numbing, so it’s important to step back every once in a while and look at the big picture: Never have we seen such utter chaos and blatant corruption.
None of what’s happening is normal, and none of it should be acceptable. Life is imitating art: What we have is less a presidency than a cheesy reality show, set in a great stately house, with made-for-television histrionics, constant backstabbing and major characters periodically getting booted out.
Hope Hicks, the White House communications director, decided Wednesday to self-eject. Was it because she had spent the previous day testifying on Capitol Hill and was forced to admit having told “white lies” for President Trump? Was it because the man she had been dating, Rob Porter, lost his important White House position when the Daily Mail revealed he faced multiple allegations of wife-beating? Or was Hicks simply exhausted?
Porter’s job involved controlling the flow of paperwork, some of it classified and extremely sensitive, to the president. Because of those abuse allegations, however, he couldn’t get a permanent top-secret security clearance. That was bad enough, but later we learned that dozens of White House officials, perhaps 100 or more, were working with only interim clearances, not permanent ones. Their access to secret information was cut off by Chief of Staff John F. Kelly — but only after all of this had become public.
Among those now with limited access is Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, whose heavily indebted real estate empire and grudging disclosure of his many foreign contacts worried FBI investigators. Kushner is a senior adviser to the president whose many assignments include forging peace in the Middle East — but who now is not cleared for documents or meetings that discuss what’s really happening in the Middle East or anywhere else. So why is he still there?
Why was he there in the first place? Because of Trump’s appalling nepotism.
Trump also brought his daughter Ivanka into the White House as an adviser. What does she do? What qualifies her to do it? In a real administration, conservative or liberal, Kushner’s office and Ivanka Trump’s office would be occupied by experienced professionals who actually know something about diplomacy or administration or some government function.
According to the New York Times, Kushner set up White House meetings for two business executives whose private equity firm and bank later made loans to the Kushner Companies real estate firm totaling more than $500 million. Trump’s promise to “drain the swamp” was a cruel joke. He has expanded it into a vast protected wetland, to be enjoyed by friends and family.
Never before have we had a president openly at war with his own attorney general. The Post reported Wednesday that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III is investigating whether Trump’s attempts to force Attorney General Jeff Sessions out of his job last summer were part of a pattern of attempted obstruction of justice. According to The Post, Trump’s private name for Sessions is “Mr. Magoo,” a baby-boomer reference that younger readers will have to Google.
Trump began his day Wednesday by tweeting that a decision Sessions recently made was “DISGRACEFUL!” Sessions responded by issuing a statement strongly rebutting Trump’s criticism. And that evening, Sessions was photographed at a posh Washington restaurant dining with Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein — who oversees the Mueller investigation — and Solicitor General Noel Francisco. If it wasn’t a deliberate display of unity at the Justice Department, it sure looked like one.
Also on Wednesday, Trump convened a televised negotiating session with members of Congress on the subject of gun violence. To the escalating horror of Republicans present, he heartily endorsed several Democratic gun control proposals — and then went much further, saying that in the case of individuals who are mentally unstable, authorities should “take the guns first, go through due process second.” Any other president who displayed such cavalier disregard for previous policy positions and total ignorance of basic facts would have provoked an uproar. Trump barely gets a shrug. Nobody expects him to be consistent. Nobody expects him to know anything about anything. He is defining the presidency down in a way that we must not tolerate.
Meanwhile, Mueller is focusing on those Russian hackers, and perhaps Assange himself, who hacked the DNC and promised to give Don Jr. “dirt” on Hillary. Could Vlad himself be on the list? Would that be enough for him to build another extra-fancy nuclear missile? Time will tell . . .
Bob Kincaid for Mike Malloy Friday, play nice, y’all!