Speaking of Corruption

Does it get much more swampy than this?

To add to Doug Mataconis’ post from Saturday is the following story from the NYT: Checking In at Trump Hotels, for Kinship (and Maybe Some Sway).

Since Mr. Trump became president, there have been thousands of visits to his properties, not only by Mr. Trump himself, but by foreign leaders, lobbyists, Republican candidates, members of Congress, cabinet members and others with ties to the president. At least 90 members of Congress, 250 Trump administration officials and more than 110 foreign officials have been spotted at Trump properties since 2017, according to social media posts and counts by various watchdog groups.

“It reflects the normalization of corruption — this is just how business works in Trump’s Washington, D.C.,” said Robert Weissman, the president of Public Citizen, a nonprofit ethics group. “We have witnessed a stunning degradation of ethical norms.”

Federal Election Commission records, meanwhile, show that since January 2017, at least $5.6 million has been spent at Trump properties by political candidates or party organizations, including by Mr. Trump’s own political operation, according to an analysis by Public Citizen.

In the four years before Mr. Trump’s bid for president, these same hotels and other venues collected a total of only $119,000 in federally regulated payments from political groups.

But hey, what’s the big deal, right? I mean, heck, he donates his salary!

Omar Navarro, a Republican from California running for the House, has hosted fund-raising events at the Trump National Golf Club in Los Angeles, and more recently set up a series of meetings with donors at the Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas. When he came to Washington this year for the Fourth of July, he stayed at the Trump International Hotel.

“When you have an event there or do something there, it signifies that you are supporting the president, and supporting what he is doing,” Mr. Navarro said. “It sends a clear message.”

That’s not disturbing at all! We should, of course, want aspiring candidates to show their loyalty to the president by patronizing his businesses. It is just like the Framers intended!

And it is quite the foreign policy tool:

The single biggest known tab was paid by the government of Saudi Arabia, which disclosed that it spent $190,273 at the Trump hotel in early 2017, as well as an additional $78,204 on catering.

The hotel has on an almost daily basis drawn visits from foreign officials. This week it was Imran Ismail, the governor of a Pakistani province who was in Washington to meet with the State Department and members of Congress to discuss human rights issues in Kashmir, among other topics.

The visit was first noticed by Zach Everson, who runs the 1100 Pennsylvania newsletter.

Jose Manuel del Gallego Romualdez, the Philippine ambassador to the United States, explained his own reasoning for scheduling an event at the hotel last year.

“The Trump hotel may have some political undertones because it is associated with the U.S. president,” Mr. Romualdez wrote in a column in a Philippine newspaper. “But since several other embassies have also held their national day celebrations at the Trump hotel, which were well attended — I decided — why not do it there, too.”

The whole piece is worth a read.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, Donald Trump, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. CSK says:

    This, like all Trump’s other outrages, is of absolutely no consequence to his admirers. Those who might possibly acknowledge it simply believe he’s being a super-smart businessman raking in the bucks while he can.

  2. al Ameda says:

    Trump’s corruption is low-grade low-rent Third World stuff. I’ve said it before, if the Emoluments Clause of The Constitution has any meaning at all, Congress has a responsibility to open an investigation, or, if they’re already on it, start writing this up in their Draft Articles of Impeachment.

    I do not believe that the Framers intended that corruption reach Bokassa, Mobutu, or Mugabe levels before Congress took it seriously. Trump is very confident that nobody will do anything about this.

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  3. gVOR08 says:

    @al Ameda: And yet the Framers, unwittingly, wrote a constitution that makes it very difficult to prosecute a corrupt president if his party holds at least one house of Congress.

  4. SenyorDave says:

    If I’m the Democrats I make hearings about corruption a major priority. People can debate the Mueller report, but other than the 35-40% die hard Trumpkins nobody likes corruption. All hearings of any type should be oriented towards independents. And make sure you put dollar signs on the corruption, so people understand that the man who says he is worth $10 billion can be bought for a few million dollars.

  5. An Interested Party says:

    “It sends a clear message.”

    Oh it sends a message alright…just not the one that Navarro thinks it is…

  6. Scott F. says:

    @CSK:
    This outrage is of no consequence to his most rabid admirers, of course, but I keep being told that there is a large contingent of decent Republicans who believe Trump in no way represents their party. Surely this latest blatant show of corruption will spur these fine people to call their Congresspersons and demand they fully support extensive investigations into the Trump administration. After all, these Congresspersons are just waiting to be signaled by their constituents before springing into action. Trump is an aberration, not Repub…

    Sorry, one can only keep such nonsense up for so long.

  7. Mister Bluster says:

    @Scott F.:..but I keep being told that there is a large contingent of decent Republicans who believe Trump in no way represents their party.

    I might have found one…maybe.

    Southern Illinoisan
    Aug 25, 2019
    To the Editor:
    I used to be a Republican, but now I’m not sure what I am—perhaps an Independent. I’m also a Catholic, so stay with me, I’ll tie the two together.
    I find President Trump to be an embarrassment. OK, I don’t like him. He keeps doing and saying horrible things. OK, occasionally he gets something right. But when he is so horribly wrong, do Republicans stand up and criticize him?
    Does Mike Bost? (R-IL 12th District)
    Now here comes the Catholic thing:
    We have a Pope who can do no wrong. It’s nonsense that I routinely find fault in the Pope’s actions or inactions. He can really mess up, and when he does, I call him out. I still support him and the Church.
    Now why can’t Mike Bost and just once say that Mr. Trump was wrong. Does it take that much courage, he was a Marine. You can be a Trump supporter and a loyal Republican and still criticize Trump when he is wrong.
    What line must be crossed for Bost to show the courage to call him out? Does he have no back bone?
    George Maroney
    Carbondale

    George Maroney was Administrator at Memorial Hospital of Carbondale for 30+ years and has been active in local politics since his retirement 11 years ago.

  8. de stijl says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    My initial response was “this guy is a hero.”

    But he’s just a sensible adult. We have so many blind tribal partisans now, that a sensible adult who has a tempered view seems heroic.

  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Sheeeeeit, you ain’t seen nothing yet: Air Force crew made an odd stop on a routine trip: Trump’s Scottish resort

    In early Spring of this year, an Air National Guard crew made a routine trip from the U.S. to Kuwait to deliver supplies.

    What wasn’t routine was where the crew stopped along the way: President Donald Trump’s Turnberry resort, about 50 miles outside Glasgow, Scotland.

    Since April, the House Oversight Committee has been investigating why the crew on the C-17 military transport plane made the unusual stay — both en route to the Middle East and on the way back — at the luxury waterside resort, according to several people familiar with the incident. But they have yet to receive any answers from the Pentagon.

    But that is just the tip of the iceberg:

    The frequency of the stops and overnight stays by the Air Force at Prestwick has increased steadily, from 95 stops and 40 overnights in 2015 to 259 stops and 220 overnights through August 2019. The Air Force couldn’t say how many of those 220 overnights were spent at Turnberry.

    Also from Bertrand’s twitter:

    “An Air Force spokesman said the C-17 stopover in Glasgow, and stay at Turnberry, that we reported on was “not unusual.”
    A current Senior Air Force official, meanwhile, who was previously stationed where the C-17 crew was based, called it…unusual.”

  10. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: This quote from the Politico article made my day:

    “Every two and half minutes an Air Force transport aircraft takes off or lands somewhere around the globe. As our aircrews serve on these international airlift missions, they follow strict guidelines on contracting for hotel accommodations and all expenditures of taxpayer dollars,” Brig. Gen. Ed Thomas said in the statement. “In this case, they made reservations through the Defense Travel System and used the closest available and least expensive accommodations to the airfield within the crews’ allowable hotel rates. While we are still reviewing the trip records, we have found nothing that falls outside the guidelines associated with selecting stopover airports on travel routes and hotel accommodations for crew rest.”

    BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA….

    On previous trips to the Middle East, the C-17 had landed at U.S. air bases such as Ramstein Air Base in Germany or Naval Station Rota in Spain to refuel, according to one person familiar with the trips. Occasionally the plane stopped in the Azores and once in Sigonella, Italy, both of which have U.S. military sites, the person added.

    But on this particular trip, the plane landed in Glasgow — a pitstop the five-man crew had never experienced in their dozens of trips to the Middle East. The location lacked a U.S. base and was dozens of miles away from the crew’s overnight lodging at the Turnberry resort.

    Had the crew needed to make a stop in the U.K., Lakenheath Air Base is situated nearby in England. The layover might have been cheaper, too: the military gets billed at a higher rate for fuel at commercial airports.

    It just keeps getting better.

    Oh, and for the record:

    Taken together, the incidents raise the possibility that the military has helped keep Trump’s Turnberry resort afloat — the property lost $4.5 million in 2017, but revenue went up $3 million in 2018.

  11. Guarneri says:

    No doubt in the President’s Daily Briefing an accounting of hotel receipts is shown to him, organized by dollars and related policy decisions of the day.

    What the heck, if Stormy, Amarossa, Avennati, the Mooch……….don’t work, go the pay for play route. By the way, the Avennati worship was heavy here for awhile. What ever happened to him?

    You guys need some time off.

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  12. @Guarneri:

    By the way, the Avennati worship was heavy here for awhile.

    Not by any of the authors on the site.

    Really, your whole post is a non sequitur.

    I would be interested in an actual defense of all of this.

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  13. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Guarneri: Avenatti was an obvious blow hard from the gitgo, the only thing I heard people cheering him on about was his ability to get under the orange one’s skin. As for

    No doubt in the President’s Daily Briefing an accounting of hotel receipts is shown to him, organized by dollars and related policy decisions of the day.

    You dumbfuck, he has snollygosters, lickspittles, and shysters for that. And when it comes to

    What the heck, if Stormy, Amarossa, Avennati, the Mooch……….don’t work, go the pay for play route.

    Where the fuck have you been? People have been talking about this since before he was sworn in.

    You need to get back on your meds.

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  14. Teve says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Guano is back on his meds, if by meds you mean crack cocaine.

  15. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Teve: No, I was thinking of blues or ludes.

  16. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Non sequitur is as close as he can get to an actual defense. Assuming that he’s the business tycoon (or is that typhoon?) that he claims, he’d be terminating people who filed expense reports that contained expenses like these.

  17. Joe says:

    I would be interested in an actual defense of all of this.

    You’re asking the wrong guy, Steven.

  18. al Ameda says:

    @Guarneri:
    Yeah I know, the Emoluments Clause has no relevance when applied to The Chosen One and his Divine Guidance.

  19. @Joe: Oh, I know.

  20. Jay L Gischer says:

    The Emoluments Clause has no statutory followup. Which means that it’s very hard to base any particular prosecution or civil action on it.

    As I understand our legal system, the existence of the Emoluments Clause, as much as I like it, only allows any spending or law made by the government to be declared unconstitutional, and render any such contract unenforceable. But I’m not a lawyer, so I could be wrong about this.

    It also provides a clear basis for impeachment, but that’s a political action, not a legal one. Again we see politics superseding law, which reminds me again how fragile rule of law is.

  21. mattbernius says:

    @Guarneri:

    No doubt in the President’s Daily Briefing an accounting of hotel receipts is shown to him, organized by dollars and related policy decisions of the day.

    The point isn’t whether or not Trump specifically ordered these things (though it seems pretty clear that he was involved with Pence’s team’s choice of lodging). It’s that he’s created an environment where making these choices to enrich his businesses is the norm.

    It’s much the same way that he’s actively cultivated an environment where everyone needs to actively support his lies.

    Simply put, he brings out the worst in everyone who works with him.

  22. Teve says:

    Donald J. Trump
    @realDonaldTrump
    I know nothing about an Air Force plane landing at an airport (which I do not own and have nothing to do with) near Turnberry Resort (which I do own) in Scotland, and filling up with fuel, with the crew staying overnight at Turnberry (they have good taste!). NOTHING TO DO WITH ME
    9:43 AM · Sep 9, 2019·

    He sounds innocent.

  23. Alex Hamilton says:

    So I have a question, let’s say the President is voted out next year, is there any sort of legislation that Congress could pass to prevent a repeat of this insanity in the future? Is impeachment really the only enforcement action in this situation and/or is a constitutional amendment the only way to clarify the emoluments clause?

  24. Lily Bart says:

    @Guarneri:
    Are you referring to the PDBs that have had to be seriously dumbed down to accommodate Donnie’s gnat-like attention span?

  25. michael reynolds says:

    @Teve:
    Coming here is @Guarneri’s drug. He needs us. All we do is abuse him and laugh at him, and anyone with a shred of dignity would have toddled off. But I’m guessing Guarneri is rather lonely. IIRC he’s childless and may be unmarried as well, both of which seem in some people to accelerate their descent into senility. Then add in a lack of employment and you have the Cocktail of Cognitive Decline – isolation and lack of work, straight up with a wedge of lime. Much the same with Dave Schuler who has become painful to read.

    Both remind me of my father-in-law, 88, late stage COPD, alone. A smart man. Never a particularly nice man, but very smart. Don’t get me wrong, he may be oxygen deprived, but he’s still smarter than Guarneri ever was. I just think isolation and especially lack of work are deadly to old men. Women seem more robust. Few things more fragile in this world than an elderly man.

    It genuinely worries me. It’s why I insist on dying before my wife. I don’t know how well I’d be doing in similarly constrained circumstances, dis-invested in the future, no longer aspiring and grasping. It’s a matter of luck that I’m happily married, and a different sort of ‘luck’ that my kids still require active parental involvement, and that I have more than enough work. I’ve always known I’d never retire, but sometimes it whispers to me, Michael, you have the funds, you’ve got a nice pool, you could just relax for once in your life. But in the Bugs Bunny cartoon of my life that’s the devil on my left shoulder. On the right shoulder there’s a little cherub yelling Write! Write till you die! I don’t know why, just do it! . I split the difference now – I write in the morning, smoke a joint after lunch and lie by the pool reading or listening to podcasts and, inevitably, writing even though I’m supposedly not.

    Old age is not for the weak.

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  26. mattbernius says:

    @Alex Hamilton:

    So I have a question, let’s say the President is voted out next year, is there any sort of legislation that Congress could pass to prevent a repeat of this insanity in the future?

    Yes. There’s a lot Congress could do — both in terms of fixing existing legislation and enacting new controls. Here’s an example of proposed legislation: https://www.newsweek.com/king-trump-gop-senators-introduce-new-bill-curbing-emergency-powers-stop-1361192

    However, that also dependent on having both parties agree to fixing these issues. That currently is highly unlikely.

  27. Teve says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Both remind me of my father-in-law, 88, late stage COPD, alone. A smart man. Never a particularly nice man, but very smart. Don’t get me wrong, he may be oxygen deprived, but he’s still smarter than Guarneri ever was. I just think isolation and especially lack of work are deadly to old men. Women seem more robust. Few things more fragile in this world than an elderly man.

    seems like I read a while back that experts think a big reason for the huge difference is that men don’t do a good job of having friends and women do a much better job.

  28. michael reynolds says:

    @Alex Hamilton:
    1) We need legislation to make the emoluments clause enforceable. We’ve seen just how easily a committed grifter can carry on while in office.
    2) I don’t know by what mechanism, but we need limits on the presidential pardon power.
    3) We should pass legislation requiring all candidates for federal office to reveal tax statements and financial records.
    4) We need legislation specifically criminalizing accepting campaign help from foreign powers. Not campaign law violation, a felony.

    That’s a start, anyway.

  29. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Guarneri:
    Isn’t Avenatti the guy that represented the porn star that Trump denied paying off, but really paid off, which Cohen is in jail for? The one Trump paid to be quiet about his tiny……..hands?
    Given that…I don’t get your point.

  30. Carol says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    …they made reservations through the Defense Travel System and used the closest available and least expensive accommodations to the airfield within the crews’ allowable hotel rates.

    Remember trump’s innocent until proven guilty. Maybe he gave them free lodging and meals./

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  31. mattbernius says:

    @mattbernius:

    The point isn’t whether or not Trump specifically ordered these things (though it seems pretty clear that he was involved with Pence’s team’s choice of lodging). It’s that he’s created an environment where making these choices to enrich his businesses is the norm.

    It’s much the same way that he’s actively cultivated an environment where everyone needs to actively support his lies.

    To this point, NYT is running a report that Commerce secretary Wilbur Ross threatened to fire NOAA officials in a fight over President Trump’s incorrect warnings about Alabama and Hurricane Dorian.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/09/climate/hurrican-dorian-trump-tweet.html?smtyp=cur&smid=tw-nytclimate

    Regardless of whether or not this was the result of an order from Trump, he’s created an environment where this type of behavior is the new norm.

  32. sam says:

    @Michael

    “IIRC he’s childless and may be unmarried as well”

    He’s married and has a college-age daughter. He still works with his PI firm, though not full-time, I believe. Semi-retired. As for his coming here to be abused — well, he’s certainly filled with the pus of resentment, and he must get some kind of satisfaction out of the shite that’s heaped on him hereabouts. In some perverse way, he takes it as validation. It would take a Nietzsche to adequately explain that pathetic dynamic.

  33. mattbernius says:

    @sam:

    He’s married and has a college-age daughter.

    God, I unironically hope for their sake that he’s nothing like the persona he has so carefully created online.

  34. michael reynolds says:

    @sam:
    Interesting. Is this from personal knowledge, or is he the source?

  35. Jen says:

    Regarding the Air Force and refueling at the airport that is needed to be kept afloat so that rich people can fly in close to Trump’s resort…the contract expires at the end of September. The Defense Dept. is negotiating a new contract that will have US taxpayers enriching that Scottish airport up through 2024.

  36. sam says:

    @Michael

    I gleaned the bio stuff from things he’s said over at Dave’s.

  37. michael reynolds says:

    @sam:
    Thanks. I suppose in a way it’s sadder if he isn’t a shut-in, but maybe that’s just my own prejudice – I’m aware of how much my wife and kids keep me tethered to reality and in particular to a concern for the future. It’s appalling to me that a man with a child would be a climate change denier. I don’t see how a parent justifies that.

    I try to discover to my own satisfaction whether I’m dealing with a creep or someone suffering from a genuine mental illness. I can’t ethically be making fun of crazy people. Now, people with personality disorders. . .

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  38. An Interested Party says:

    Now, people with personality disorders. . .

    A person who anonymously brags about what a great businessman he supposedly is and how much wealth he supposedly has sounds like someone with a personality disorder…

  39. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @An Interested Party:

    A person who anonymously brags about what a great businessman he supposedly is and how much wealth he supposedly has sounds like someone with a personality disorder…

    Hmmmm, sounds just like trump. Ooooopps, wait a minute, you said “anonymously”.

  40. grumpy realist says:

    @Guarneri: Well, either Trump has created an atmosphere of grifting around himself or he is perfectly happy with being surrounded by people who create it for him.

    And you, supposedly moral great businessman, see nothing wrong with that.

    I think that says more about you than anything else.

  41. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Carol: By this point in time Carol, when it comes to trump it is better to assume guilt until proven innocent.