Juan Williams: Swamp creature at the White House

For all my criticism of President Trump, I’ve got to be honest — I loved the fireworks.

Fireworks swirled around the Washington Monument after Trump accepted the GOP nomination on the White House lawn on Aug. 27. They spelled “TRUMP” in the night sky.

If you are reading this column years from now, you might think this is a parody. You can’t believe that any president got away with turning the White House into a gaudy stage for partisan politics.

{mosads}Did I mention the opera singer on the White House balcony?

When Trump ran for president he promised to “drain the swamp” of Washington political corruption.

Now, Trump is king of the swamp.

Not long ago, his then-Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator, Scott Pruitt, was living in super-cheap housing courtesy of the wife of a man lobbying the EPA and Scott Pruitt.

Trump opened the door for 281 lobbyists to work for his administration in his first three years. Former lobbyists now run four agencies, including the departments of Defense and Energy.

“How sick is Trump’s revolving door?” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) tweeted last year after a former coal lobbyist was put in charge of regulating air pollution.

More recently, Trump fired the State Department inspector general at the request of the secretary of State, Mike Pompeo. Why?

Well, the inspector general was looking into how Pompeo used the department staff to run errands, such as picking up takeout food orders and the family dry cleaning.

If you think that was bad, how about this? Pompeo spoke at the convention, live from Jerusalem, while on a taxpayer-funded trip.


Oh, and the head of the Department of Homeland Security used the White House to stage a naturalization ceremony starring the president. It became a video segment for the GOP convention.

“It’s starting to seem like the Trump administration is going out of its way to find new ways to violate federal law,” said government watchdog group, the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. The group was referring specifically to the Hatch Act, which prohibits partisan political activities by federal employees.

Mark Meadows, Trump’s chief of staff, responded that “nobody outside the Beltway really cares” about the president using government employees for his political campaign.

In any other administration, Trump’s actions would be a four-alarm scandal. Do you remember the outrage when Vice President Al Gore merely made a campaign fundraising call from the White House?

Trump has now turned the tables on the press.

His press office recently announced they have compiled a “very large dossier” on a Washington Post writer, David Fahrenthold, after he reported that “taxpayers have paid Trump’s businesses more than $900,000 since he took office.”

That was followed by an act of screaming hypocrisy when a former Florida attorney general, Pam Bondi (R), tore into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son at the convention for allegedly taking money from foreign governments.

Her charges against the Bidens have long been reviewed and found lacking. But Bondi said: “If they want to make this election between who is saving America and who is swindling America, bring it on.”

Bondi’s hypocrisy encompasses her work as a registered agent for Qatar, a foreign government dealing with charges of corrupt dealings in its bid for the soccer World Cup.

As for the baseless charge that the Biden family took in millions from a foreign government, it is hard to ignore that Trump’s daughter Ivanka was granted valuable trademarks by China, including three approved on the same day she dined with the Chinese president, Xi Jinping.

And more muck emerges from the swamp daily.

{mossecondads}Last month, Trump’s 2016 campaign CEO Stephen Bannon was arrested and charged with fraud for a fundraising scam called “We Build the Wall.” Did any of the Trump backers who gave millions to Bannon remember that Trump promised Mexico was going to pay for the border wall? 

Then there is former White House counselor and Trump 2016 campaign manager Kellyanne Conway.

The Office of Special Counsel sent 134 letters warning federal workers for possible illegal actions during the first three years of the Trump administration. Conway was scolded that her “disregard for the restrictions the Hatch Act places on executive branch employees is unacceptable.”

In one case, she promoted Ivanka Trump’s clothing line on television.

Now The New York Times reports the huckster tactics are distorting conservative media.

Reporter Kevin Roose wrote “pro-Trump political influencers” make money by swarming “every major news story, creating a torrent of viral commentary that reliably drowns out both the mainstream media and the liberal opposition.”

The Huffington Post recently reported on the booming market for pro-Trump memes that is enriching conservative teens.

“As Election Day looms, MAGA meme moguls are enjoying explosive surges in traffic …Their thriving cottage industry serves as a free propaganda operation for the president’s campaign” — and brings money to anyone willing to dive into the Trump swamp, wrote Jesselyn Cook.

Eric Hoffer, the philosopher, once wrote, “Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.”

I wonder if he liked the fireworks.

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

Tags Al Gore Bernie Sanders Corruption Donald Trump drain the swamp Ethics Ivanka Trump Joe Biden Kellyanne Conway Mark Meadows Mike Pompeo Scott Pruitt self-dealing Steve Bannon the swamp

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