Juan Williams: Trump weaves web of corruption

Juan Williams: Trump weaves web of corruption
© Anna Moneymaker

There is always backstabbing and shady money in politics.

But nothing I’ve seen in 40 years covering national politics comes close to what we have with President TrumpDonald John TrumpMcCabe says he was fired because he 'opened a case against' Trump McCabe: Trump said 'I don't care, I believe Putin' when confronted with US intel on North Korea McCabe: Trump talked to me about his election victory during 'bizarre' job interview MORE.

For all her credibility problems, Omarosa Manigault NewmanOmarosa Onee Manigault NewmanEx-White House aide Cliff Sims sues Trump NYT: White House says Trump's tan is the result of ‘good genes’ Former White House aide says he's not worried about lawsuit over tell-all book MORE’s account of White House corruption in her new book tracks closely with the climate of routinized dishonesty, paranoia and corruption described in Michael Wolff’s book “Fire and Fury.”

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It also matches The Wall Street Journal’s reporting on Trump’s lawyer admitting payoffs to silence a porn star and a Playboy model. It fits with Trump’s changing story about his son’s meeting with a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower.

 

It fits with a lawsuit charging the president with making money from his Washington hotel while in the White House. It fits with financial reports showing Trump’s daughter and son-in-law made $81 million in outside income in the president’s first year in office.

Democrats fighting to gain a majority in the House are appealing to voters to let them be a check on Trump and corruption.

“Money just doesn’t talk in Washington. It shouts… But let’s never lose sight of the fact that the Trump administration is the most corrupt administration in our lifetime,” Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenSenate Dems introduce bill to prevent Trump from using disaster funds to build wall Klobuchar, O'Rourke visit Wisconsin as 2020 race heats up Sherrod Brown pushes for Medicare buy-in proposal in place of 'Medicare for all' MORE (D-Mass.), a potential 2020 presidential candidate told NBC’s Seth Meyers last week.

She was referring to the reports that President Trump’s former chief economic advisor Gary CohnGary David CohnChristie: Trump doesn’t give nicknames to people he respects On The Money: Congress pivots to prevent another shutdown | Trump hits Venezuelan oil company with sanctions | US criminal charges filed against Huawei | Next round of China trade talks set | Forecasts raise doubt on Trump’s economic goals Gary Cohn joked about sending Trump to help Brexit talks: report MORE received a $284 million payout from Goldman Sachs before taking a job at the White House, where he led the effort to write and pass the Trump tax cut. Goldman Sachs and their wealthy clients benefitted to the tune of billions of dollars.

Of course, Warren could have picked any of the myriad examples or allegations of public corruption we’ve seen from administration officials over the last 20 months.

There was former EPA administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOvernight Energy: EPA to make formal decision on regulating drinking water contaminant | Utility to close coal plant despite Trump plea | Greens say climate is high on 2020 voters’ minds EPA to announce PFAS chemical regulation plans by end of year Court tosses challenge to EPA's exclusion of certain scientists from advisory boards MORE’s use of $43,000 in taxpayer’s money to install a private, soundproof telephone booth in his office.

There was former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom PriceThomas (Tom) Edmunds PriceIs a presidential appointment worth the risk? Former Ryan aide moves to K street Grassley to test GOP on lowering drug prices MORE’s use of private and military planes for his travel, totaling almost $1 million of taxpayer money.

There are new allegations against Commerce Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossSupreme Court to hear census citizenship case this term Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers press officials on 2020 election security | T-Mobile, Sprint execs defend merger before Congress | Officials charge alleged Iranian spy | Senate panel kicks off talks on data security bill Apple, IBM, Walmart join White House advisory board MORE, first reported by Forbes magazine, that he stole millions of dollars from business partners before joining the administration. Ross still has his job.

The Washington Post reported on Friday that the Department of Justice is looking into whether a well-known Republican fundraiser, Elliott Broidy, "sought to sell his influence with the Trump administration."

And one of Trump’s biggest supporters in Congress, Rep. Chris CollinsChristopher (Chris) Carl CollinsFighting AIDS domestically and globally means pushing more evidence-based services House Dems unveil initial GOP targets in 2020 The Memo: Pelosi ups ante in Trump showdown MORE (R-N.Y.) recently suspended his reelection campaign after being arrested on charges of insider trading.

House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiThe national emergency will haunt Republicans come election season On unilateral executive action, Mitch McConnell was right — in 2014 National emergency declaration — a legal fight Trump is likely to win MORE (D-Calif.) sent a letter out last week calling on voters to put Democrats in office to fix the GOP’s “brazen corruption, cronyism and incompetence.”

A “culture of corruption” campaign message against the GOP has worked before. Pelosi became Speaker in 2006 when former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay’s (R-Tex.) shady dealings with lobbyist Jack Abramoff dominated the headlines.

The Wall Street Journal editorial board noted last week that Democrats might have a problem casting stones from their glass house where Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezWilliam Barr is right man for the times This week: Trump delivers State of the Union amid wall fight BuzzFeed story has more to say about media than the president MORE (D-N.J.) resides.

But the problems Menendez poses for Democrats are small ball compared to the big political story — the daily drumbeat from the Trump White House.

The heart of the corruption stems from Trump’s failure to divest from his sprawling international business empire. His family has not divested, either. All of that is compounded by his stubborn refusal to release his tax returns.

As Paul Waldman wrote for the Washington Post last week: “Not only has he failed to find the best people; he attracts the most corrupt and incompetent people around, who see in Trump a vehicle to wet their own beaks or at the very least carry out a retrograde agenda in an environment where ethical behavior is actively discouraged.”

Omarosa agrees:

“There’s a lot of very corrupt things happening in the White House and I am going to blow the whistle on a lot of them,” she said while promoting her new book. She revealed she was offered a $15,000 a month job on the Trump 2020 campaign to stay silent about what she saw in the White House.

And in keeping with the odor of scandal, she has secret tapes of conversations with Trump family and White House officials.

“I protected myself because this is a White House where everybody lies,” she said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“The president lies to the American people. Sarah Huckabee stands in front of the country and lies every single day. You have to have your own back because otherwise you'll look back and you'll see 17 knives in your back.”

It is easy for Democrats to say the Trump administration is the most corrupt administration in history.

But keep in mind that corruption is more than old-fashioned political graft. The far more serious crime is Trump’s corruption of our collective civic soul as Americans. There is the normalization of cynicism, paranoia, hatred of immigrants, racism, lying and stealing.

To me, that is the real crime. Every Republican who has enabled it will be judged by the voters in November.

Juan Williams is an author, and a political analyst for Fox News Channel.