The Trump Scandals
(Subtitled "Trump First, not America first")
"Vladimir" Trump is engulfed in more scandals than any other politician in modern history, anywhere in the world.
First, there are the corruption and the nepotism, to an extent never experienced in the West.
For example, Trump met with Novartis' CEO in january 2018, and later the New York Times discovered that Novartis made four payments of about $100,000 to a shadow firm owned by Trump's attorney Michael Cohen. AT&T made four payments to the same firm just when it was waiting for approval of its controversial merger with Time Warner.
Several firms that have been punished for polluting the environment have contributed directly to the political campaigns of Scott Angelle, Trump's director of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.
Scott Pruitt, Trump's first director of the
Environmental Protection Agency,
fired or demoted personnel who questioned his extravagant spending.
Ronny Jackson, chosen by Trump to run the second largest agency of the US government, is a chronic drunk.
White House staff secretary Rob Porter resigned after allegations of domestic violence.
Tom Price, the highest-ranking health official in the Trump administration, resigned after a scandal of high-priced flights on charter and military airplanes.
Dozens of Trump administration lawyers working in agencies including the White House, Department of Justice, Interior Department and the Environmental Protection Agency are now in charge of dealing with their own old clients (source: Public Citizen).
Senior officials of the Trump administration have been spending taxpayer's money in lavish expenses, including a trip to Fort Knox to witness the solar eclipse, $31,000 dining sets
(Ben Carson, Trump's secretary of housing and urban development)
and $139,000 doors.
Brenda Fitzgerald, director of the Center for Disease Control, traded tobacco stocks (and had to resign).
Ryan Zinke, Trump's interior secretary, a pro-gun politician, invested in a Montana-based gun firm (and used taxpayers' money to pay for his private-jet trips).
By the end of 2018 he had become the subject of several federal investigations: a scandal involved Halliburton's chairman David Lesar funding a commercial development that would increase the value of Zinke's home just when Zinke approved a deal on fossil fuel production that benefited Halliburton; a scandal involved Zinke's wife Lola traveling in government vehicles; a scandal was about $12,000 of government money to pay for a plane chartered by Zinke to visit a hockey team owned by one of his biggest donors; and a scandal was about the decision to block a perfectly legal casino venture in Connecticut to benefit a competitor, MGM Resorts International, that also happens to be a major lobbyist.
Wilbur Ross, Trump's commerce secretary, has been investing in stocks that
will be affected by his own political decisions (as noted by both the Campaign Legal Center and the Office of Government Ethics).
In November 2018 the Washington Post discovered that US taxpayers were charged $100,000 for a personal business trip to India by Donald Trump's eldest son.
Trump was hostile to China until China approved 30 trademarks for the Trump
organization: overnight Trump started calling president Xi a friend, and
(right after China approved another trademark for his daughter) Trump even
went so far as to rescue a $7 billion Chinese corporation (ZTE) that Congress wanted to punish for violating all sorts of US laws.
Trump's anti-Islamic rhetoric evaporated when his
billionaire friend and fund-raiser Tom Barrack struck a deal with Saudi Arabia
and the United Arab Emirates that helped
his company Colony NorthStar raise a record $7 billion in investments.
In December 2018 the Wall Street Journal reported that Trump's 2017 inaugural committee is investigated by federal prosecutors in New York for possible financial abuses related to the more than $100 million in donations raised for his inauguration.
When in July 2018 Pruitt finally resigned (as evidence emerged that he had retaliated against any employee who opposed his hyper-corrupt spending), the chairman of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (Norman Eisen) wrote "There has never been a cabinet official who has survived as many scandals as Scott Pruitt". Unfortunately, his successor Andrew Wheeler is no less corrupt: he has worked as a lobbyist for the likes of Murray Energy, Energy Fuels Resources, Xcel Energy and Bear Head LNG Corporation Growth Energy, General Mills, Archer Daniels Midland (and the list goes on and on), all firms with a vested interest to cause harm to the environment.
Trump's director of the "clean air office" of the Environmental Protection Agency is William Wehrum, a corporate lawyer who was hired for years by the USA's worst polluters (chemical factories, oil refineries, coal-burning power plants, etc) to fight the Environmental Protection Agency in court. As Trump rolls back anti-polluting regulations, Wehrum is delivering to his clients without any need to fight the law: now he IS the law.
Trump has repeatedly accused climate change scientists of having a "political agenda", has repeatedly called climate change a "hoax", and has withdrawn the USA from the Paris climate change agreement, in order to justify actions that please these most polluting industries.
In November 2018 Trump fired his attorney general Jeff Sessions, and replaced him with Matt Whitaker whom he called “a very respected man”, but Forbes (hardly a left-wing magazine) reported that said Whitaker has served on the board of World Patent Marketing, a Florida-based “scam that has bilked thousands of consumers out of millions of dollars,” according to a complaint filed by the Federal Trade Commission, and that said Whitaker threatened at least one victim who complained. In August 2017 a federal court shut down the company due to its fraudolent activities (quote:“The record supports a preliminary finding that Defendants devised a fraudulent scheme to use consumer funds to enrich themselves”).
You probably haven't noticed any difference in your tax return after the Trump $1.5 trillion tax cut was enacted. The reason is simple: most of those $1.5 trillions went to rich individuals and big corporations. They did notice the tax cut. And they are grateful. They are contributing enthusiastically to the Congressional Leadership Fund, a “super PAC” created to channel campaign donations to the Republican Party. If you wonder why Republicans are not more vocal about the many Trump scandals, this is the easiest explanation: Trump's corrupt policies (in this case a veritable robbery of the middle class) are helping the Republican Party accumulate the fortune that will be spent to defend the seats of the incumbent Republicans. These Republicans have no motivation to criticize Trump (let alone impeach him) because Trump has just provided the funds for their reelection campaign. According to the Treasury Department, Trump's $1.5 trillion tax cut swelled the federal budget deficit by 17% in the 2018 fiscal year to $779 billion; all money that future generations will have to repay.
Nepotism has reached a level unheard of in democracies with
Jared Kushner and Trump's daughter Ivanka working in the White House.
Kushner has reaped hundreds of millions of dollars from the people and states that benefited from Trump's policies (See this Guardian report).
A "lawyer" named Brett Talley, who had never tried a case in his career, and who was unanimously deemed "not qualified" by the American Bar Association, was nominated by Trump for a lifetime federal district judgeship. And that was just Trump's fourth judicial nominee who was rated "not qualified" by the bar association.
Trump wants to abolish the law that allows immigrants to apply for their family's green card (he has called it "chain immigration" in November 2017), but that's precisely what his wife (a Slovenian immigrant) did for her parents Viktor and Amalija Knavs (who in fact became citizens in August 2018).
Trump's conflicts of interest are virtually everywhere, and particularly visible in his dealings with China. During his campaign, China was the enemy. But after president Xi granted a number of trademarks to the Trump organization, Trump started calling Xi a friend. In May 2018, when a trade war was brewing between
China and the USA, Trump suddenly became worried about the jobs lost in China
by a Chinese company (ZTE) widely suspected of breaking US laws.
The New York Times
pointed out a coincidence: Trump's sympathy for
a Chinese firm that he had previously demonized started exactly after
China granted his daughter Ivanka seven new trademarks.
Trump's bans on Muslims? It only affects countries where he doesn't have any
business interests. It does not affect countries such as Saudi Arabia and
Egypt that have contributed September 11 terrorists: Trump owns businesses in
both countries. Saudi Arabia is obviously a much worse dictatorship than Iran
(check the number of dissidents who are in jail),
and it has caused much more turmoil in the Middle East, funding everybody from
Al Qaeda to ISIS, and bombing the hell out of Yemen, but Trump has instead singled out Iran, a country where he
owns no business. Trump has done business with the Saudi royal family for more
than twenty years, but never with Iran. And, of course, Trump sides with Israel
on just about every issue:
Jared Kushner's organization is funded by Israel's largest bank (Bank Hapoalim)
Jared Kushner's organization received a $30 million investment from one of Israel's largest financial institutions (Menora Mivtachim) just before his first trip to Israel (see this report in Haaretz) and his business interests there have increased since he became Trump's envoy to the Middle East (see this this report in the New York Times).
A blatant case of abuse of power to take care of his personal financial
interests was his visit to Britain, during which he met with the prime
minister and the queen, but mainly publicized his (money-losing) golf course.
Remember Hillary Clinton's email server? The radical right-wing media made a
big deal of it. The FBI opened an investigation that, by all accounts, cost
Hillary Clinton the presidential elections. And, yet, there is zero evidence
that this email server was ever breached by foreign spies. On the other hand,
Trump's own aides have repeatedly warned him that his iPhone is vulnerable
and that there is evidence of Russian and Chinese spies listening to his
conversations (See for example this article or this article). A president using a private
mobile phone is ten times more reckless than a secretary of state using
a private email server.
(Fox News, that spent months discussing Hillary's email server, has so far
spent zero time discussing Trump's iPhone, despite the fact that one was
speculation and the other one is fact).
Then there are the various suspected criminal activities, almost always settled out of court so they don't get to trial.
In February 2017 Trump settled out of court (for $25 million) a series of lawsuits filed against the Trump University, which was no university at all.
In June 2018 the New York attorney general’s office filed a lawsuit against the
Trump Foundation for "extensive" lawbreaking. Theoretically, the Trump Foundation is a charitable organization, although it never donates money to any charitable project. In practice, it appears to be just a way to cheat on taxes and fund Trump's political and business interests.
In October 2018 four ordinary people filed a 160-page lawsuit in Manhattan against Trump, his company and his children Donald Jr, Ivanka and Eric, accusing them of three shams (ACN, the Trump Network, and the Trump Institute) that mainly took advantage of low-income families.
An investigation is underway by the state of New York for potential tax fraud.
The foundation paid more than $250,000 to settle legal claims against some of Trump's businesses and even $10,000 to purchase a painting for a Trump golf club.
Trump always claimed that he inherited only one million dollars from his father,
but a New York Times investigation of October 2018 revealed that his father left him with the equivalent of $400 million and that Trump used dubious methods to avoid paying taxes on that fortune.
The simultaneous conviction of Paul Manafort and confession of Michael Cohen in August 2018 prove, at the least, that Trump has surrounded himself with corrupt and sometimes criminal aides. The jury is still out on whether he personally directs this criminal organizations or he is simply a very dumb old man who was easily duped by them. Either way, he shares this privileged position with very few US presidents and very few Western leaders in general.
George W Bush was rightly criticized for the poor rescue operations after the
Katrina hurricane destroyed New Orleans. But that pales in comparison with
Donald Trump's incompetent and indifferent response to the hurricane that
devastated Puerto Rico (and to callous comments he made in June 2018 about the
victims of hurricane Harvey in Texas in 2017). And when California burned in 2018 (largely due to the climate change that Trump's party doesn't want to fight), Trump offered no help and instead simply told California that California has plenty of water to fight the fires if it only wanted to. Not since Stalin's reaction to the famine in Ukraine have we seen a country leader so indifferent to
his nation's disasters.
In October 2017, ISIS killed four US soldiers in Niger.
An unprepared and poorly equipped 11-man US team and 30 Niger soldiers
were ambushed outside the village of Tongo Tongo in western Niger as they were
hunting an Islamist named Doundoun Cheffou.
This was the largest US loss of lives during combat in Africa since the 1993 “Black Hawk Down” blunder in Somalia.
By all accounts this was a poorly planned, botched mission, and one of which almost nobody knew the existence. It was certainly something that should have kept news media busy for a while. Remember the September 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi (Libya) that killed four US citizens? There were investigations, discussions and accusations (against Hillary Clinton) for at least two years. But the Niger scandal has rarely surfaced on mainstream news media. Those four soldiers have been rapidly forgotten and nobody has taken responsibility for their death, least of all the commander-in-chief, Donald Trump, who was busy playing golf.
Then there are the sex scandals. Trump has always boasted of his sex adventures
and some of them are coming back to haunt him. Apparently, he had a hot affair
with porn stars Stormy Daniels. She was silenced with hush money paid by Trump's
Karen McDougal, a former Playboy model, was silenced in an elegant manner:
her story was purchased by the magazine
National Enquirer that promised to publish it: instead Trump's associates
paid this company to kill the story.
In April 2018 the New Yorker reported that in 2015 David Pecker, the publisher of the magazine National Enquirer, a close friend of Trump, bought a story from Dino Sajudin, a former doorman at Trump World Tower in Manhattan, and then buried it. The story was about Trump having a love affair with an employee in the late 1980s that resulted in an illegitimate daughter. The story has been corroborated by six former employees of the National Enquirer, who also revealed the name of the woman. Sajudin has passed a lie-detector test during which he testified that he learned the story directly from Trump's head of security Matthew Calamari and other members of Trump's entourage.
Later a former senior editor who worked for this David Pecker, Jerry George, told CNN that this was just one of many stories that Pecker silenced with money on behalf of his friend Trump.
In August 2018 Michael Cohen admitted paying the "hush money" (which also constitutes a crime, a violation of campaign law).
A few days later, following a deal with investigators, Pecker released Sajudin from his contract and CNN published the contract that specifically references a Trump illegitimate child.
In the past, at least 16 women have come forward to accuse Trump of sexual harassment. One, Summer Zervos, sued Trump for defamation (Trump called her "a liar", he of all people...).
And, buried in the noise, is a lawsuit dropped in November 2016 according to which Trump raped a 13-year-old in 1994 (see for example this Guardian article). Her attorney Lisa Bloom wrote that her client "received numerous threats as have all the Trump accusers that I have represented."
And there's Trump's unflinching support for dictators, no matter how brutal their repression. When a Washington Post journalist (a critic of the Saudi regime) was killed and dismembered inside the Saudi embassy in Turkey (a fact proven beyond any reasonable doubt by the Turks and eventually admitted by Saudi Arabia), Trump was the only person in the world who still refused to accept the fact. His defense of the murderous regime (“Just spoke to the King of Saudi Arabia who denies any knowledge of whatever may have happened ... The denial was very, very strong”) sounded very similar to his defense of Putin.
Then there's the Russia-collusion scandal.
Read it here.
You can also add the "Great Trump Purges" (paraphrasing the great Stalin purges
of the 1930s). His contempt for the rule of law has caused many to resign.
Others had been fired for refusing to accept the actions of a corrupt and incompetent boss as he proceeded to smear
honorable people of the FBI and all other agencies, people who, unlike him,
served the country with honor, decency and honesty.
One after the other, all the people who have been in the Trump administration
talk of a dysfunctional government.
Former Trump aide Omarosa Manigault Newman wrote that "This is a White House where everybody lies".
Trump has a passion for attacking women (frequently referring to their looks)
In his opinion the dumbest journalist in the world is a black man,
who also happens to be the rare black anchor on cable television
(Doug Lemon, whom Trump called "the dumbest man on television"),
and the dumbest politician is a black woman, who also happens to be the most
senior black female politician in Washington (Maxine Waters, whom Trump called
"an extraordinarily low IQ person");
and, in his opinion, Omarosa Manigault, the rare black female White House aide, is a "dog"
and a “crazed, crying lowlife”.
When those four soldiers were killed in Niger, Trump insulted the the widow of LaDavid Johnson, who happened to be the lone black soldiers among the four killed.
In january 2018 Trump called "shitholes" the black countries of Haiti and sub-Saharan Africa. In august 2018 Trump tweeted against “the large scale killing of farmers” by blacks in South Africa. This was based on a fake story fabricated on Fox News by radical right-wing demagogue and white nationalist (and congenital liar) Tucker Carlson. (In reality the number of killings of farmers, including farm workers, reached the all-time low of 47 in 2017-18 compared with 153 in 1998, and that's in a country where 19,016 murders are committed every year). Trump repeated Carlson's accusation that South Africa's president Ramaphosa is “seizing land from his own citizens without compensation because they are the wrong skin color” when in fact the proposal (not enacted yet) is to confiscate unused land. This is nothing more than the propaganda of the Suidlanders, South Africa's version of the Ku Klux Klan.
Last but not least, Trump is obviously obsessed with Barack Obama. Trump was profoundly disgusted by the first black president. It was Trump who spread the "birther" conspiracy theory (that Obama was not born in the USA and therefore was
an illegitimate president), and later Trump has done everything in his power to obliterate the legacy of the Obama presidency. According to the Steele Dossier, Trump hired two Russian prostitutes to pee on him... in the very hotel room where Obama had slept.
The list of insults hurled at women is too long to be included here.
If he weren't enmeshed in such a whirlwind of scandals, Trump would
also be scrutinized about his psychological health. His behavior clearly
indicates a mentally unstable (if not retarded) man with lots of dangerous
paranoias. It is not only that his speeches are full of self-congratulatory,
Mussolini-style, wild exaggerations (that made the United Nations erupt in
laughter) but his behavior is also frequently grotesquely childish:
Trump used to make phone calls to newspapers and radio stations pretending to
be a publicist named John Barron or John Miller to publicize Donald Trump's lifestyle (which celebrities he was hanging out with, how many sexy women he was having sex with, and so on); a bizarre megalomaniac behavior, to say the least.
He calls everybody "low I.Q." but he never took an IQ test that would show how high (low?) his I.Q. is.
Just like he calls everybody a liar but he would never take a lie detector test.
Just like he calls everybody "crooked" but he would never disclose his tax returns.
Basically, he calls others what he knows of himself.
These are all signs of a man who is dangerously close to insanity (and can easily be manipulated by anybody including, for example, by a foreign power).
Think of the fact that Trump dictated the health certificate
that his doctor Harold Bornstein signed, the famous note about
the "healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency" (this was admitted by the doctor in April 2018): this is clearly a sign of mental instability.
One morning in August 2018 Trump googled his own name and then tweeted that
Google's results were "rigged" because he didn't like what he found.
Then there are the countless lies and exaggerations. And the obsession with
claiming that his inauguration crowd was the biggest ever or that he lost the
popular vote because of voter fraud.
Any of these grotesque incidents involving a sitting politician (any politician,
even a congresswoman in a rural district) would normally cause nationwide outrage.
And finally there's Trump's tax returns, which we have never seen, and by now everybody has guessed why.
Read my detailed report here.
It's not only that we still don't know where Trump got the money that made him rich: countless investigators in Europe and the USA are trying to find out
who gave Trump more than $200 million in cash to buy a golf course in Scotland
(which, by the way, never generated a profit);
where he got the money for a property in Vancouver and a hotel in Toronto;
whether Trump knew that his business partner in Azerbaijan laundered money for Iran’s Revolutionary Guard (a particularly intriguing fact, given Trump's hostility towards Iran);
etc. An endless list of suspicious business deals are being investigated
possible money-laundering, tax evasion and even sanctions violations.
Trump seems to think, every step of the way, that
his past criminal actions were ordinary and not prosecutable.
It is therefore not completely surprising that
Trump ignores the crimes committed by his international
friends. Just to mention the most recent ones, this year Dutch investigators
concluded that Malaysian Airlines flight MH17, travelling from Amsterdam to
Kuala Lumpur, was shot down in eastern Ukraine by a Russian missile, and
Malaysia found enough evidence that last year Kim Jong-un personally ordered the assassination of his brother Kim Jong-nam.
Trump behaves as if these events were irrelevant: "yes, Putin is
responsible for the death of some 300 passengers, and yes, Kim Jong-un assassinates family members and dissidents, and so what?"
Trump's attitude towards crime (ignoring it as a "so what?") comes from a
lifetime of amoral, unethical and criminal activities,
and from being surrounded by amoral, unethical and criminal collaborators.
Or, let's use the correct word: accomplices.
One could add many other scandals. These are scandals that would ruin the career
of any politician, but Trump has ammassed so many, and so much bigger, that
these pale. Think of the fact that he called Africa "a shithole" (he denied it,
as usual, but in April the former director of communications for the Office of Public Liaison in the White House, Omarosa Manigault-Newman, confirmed that he did indeed say it).
Trump has so far survived them because he, his associates and his mouthpieces
(Fox News) have used a strategy of silencing the witnesses (usually, buying
their silence, sometimes bullying them to silence), distracting the public (usually, by inventing fake scandals somewhere else as well as conspiracy theories that reek of Putinism) and by smearing and accusing the accusers (typically, of being politically motivated).
There is at least one thing that makes Trump truly the best in the world: his ability to survive multiple scandals each of which would have easily brought down just about anybody else.
Trump probably didn't expect to win the elections, and didn't expect to be
scrutinized so closely by the media.
Richard Wolfe correctly compared Trump to Spiro Agnew, not Richard Nixon
(see Wolfe's article).
Nixon resigned because a) his party forced him to and b) he had a bit of
dignity. Both are missing in Trump's case.
(I add that what Trump has done is much worse than what Nixon did: Nixon
didn't betray his country to a foreign power).
Agnew, instead, was a shameless crook just like "Hyper-Crooked Donald".
Until the last day, Agnew kept claiming that his accusers were all lying, that
he was the victim of a witch hunt.
Trump is neither ashamed of having cheated on his wife nor ashamed of having
paid hush money nor of having lied all the time about it.
Just like Agnew, he is convinced that he will be able to carry out his
unethical and criminal activities also in office.
Instead, running for office increased
the scrutiny from the media and the police.
There is another man who resembles Trump: Colombia's druglord Pablo Escobar.
His downfall started when he made the mistake of running for office.
The big mystery is not whether these scandals are true (you must be very naive if you still believe a word that comes out of Trump's mouth), but whether his wife Melania and his daughter Ivanka have been duped all these years or knowingly sided with a husband and a father whom most of us would disown and be ashamed of.
A few months after i wrote this article, the New York Times published
an article about how Trump and his family
profit from the presidency.
TM, ®, Copyright © 2018 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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