Thursday, December 01, 2016

Treacherous Trump

"Hence," Donald Trump remarked in the third of a series of three tweets on Wednesday,"legal documents are being crafted which take me completely out of business operations. The Presidency is a far more important task!"

They may be in the process of being crafted, but they won't get completed.  Either no approximate documents will come about, or  they  won't take him out of business operations,  as we may learn at the press conference Trump promises for December 15 to reveal the new arrangement. Or not.

Vox's Libby Nelson only began to outline Trump's opportunity to turn the presidency into his personal and family cash cow when she noted

Foreign governments are already trying to curry favor with the Trump administration by staying in Trump’s hotels and appointing his business partners as diplomatic envoys. Trump has met in his New York office with business partners from India. He brought up an issue he considers crucial to his Scotland golf course, wind farms, in a call with British politician Nigel Farage. And stalled Trump-branded projects in Argentina and the nation of Georgia have suddenly been able to proceed since he was elected president.

Economist Dean Baker nine days ago suggested the blatant conflict-of-interest could be sidestepped in three simple steps:

1) Donald Trump arranges to hire three auditors from an independent accounting firm. Each one does an independent assessment of Trump's holdings and assigns it a value.

2) The middle assessment becomes a benchmark. Donald Trump buys an insurance policy that will guarantee him that he will get this amount of money when all assets are sold. If the total take is less than the benchmark, he collects on the insurance policy. Any money received in excess of the benchmark goes to a charity of Trump's choosing (not the Trump Foundation).

3) All the proceeds from the sales are placed in a blind trust.

As Baker recognized, the president-elect won't do this on his own.

Neither will Congress force him to do so. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who was so energized from the House Select Committee's investigation of Benghazi (!),  and House Oversight Committee chairperson Jason Chaffetz, who was anxious to begin impeachment proceedings against a president-elect Clinton, suddenly have gotten cold feet.

"Every minute you are not  talking about Trump's self-enrichment  & corruption," anti-Trump conservative David Frum stated last week on CNN, "is a minute you are wasting." McCarthy and Chaffetz won't be the only Republicans who will whiff on this central issue. On Thursday, former U.S. Representative Joe Walsh neatly summed up the GOP's likely approach when he tweeted  "this whole Trump/conflict of interest crap is much ado aout nothing. We've never had a real businessman be President before. Deal with that."

There you have the entire conservative ethos wrapped in three short sentences: Corruption is fine, as long as it's our guy. Only capitalists should run the government. Up yours!

In a nation with a President who could be elected only with the (direct of indirect) assistance of the director of  the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Vladimir Putin, the nation's media is faced with a responsibility arguably greater than it ever has had before. Unfortunately, as Frum has tweeted also, "if Trump wants to imprison flag burners, imagine what he'll try to do to journalists who report on his corruption."

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