The Endless Corruption of the Trump Presidency

Same endless song, different verse.

“President Trump Departs for Louisiana” by The White House is in the Public Domain

In the ongoing category of remarkable/stunning/shocking/disgusting but not surprising comes the following from WaPo: Trump weighs firing FBI director after election as frustration with Wray, Barr grows.

The conversations among the president and senior aides stem in part from their disappointment that Wray in particular but Barr as well have not done what Trump had hoped — indicate that Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, his son Hunter Biden or other Biden associates are under investigation, these people say. Like others, they spoke on the condition of anonymity to disclose internal discussions.

In the campaign’s closing weeks, the president has intensified public calls for jailing his challenger, much as he did for Hillary Clinton, his opponent in 2016. Trump has called Biden a “criminal” without articulating what laws he believes the former vice president has broken.


Trump emphasized the point in an interview Tuesday with Fox News, saying “we’ve got to get the attorney general to act” and that Barr should do so “fast.” The president was alluding to information about Hunter Biden recently touted by Trump’s private lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, and based on the contents of a laptop computer purportedly belonging to the former vice president’s son.

“This is major corruption,” Trump added, “and this has to be known about before the election.”

The notion that it is the job of the DOJ and FBI to investigate Trump’s political rivals is corruption, plain and simple. It is not the job of the President of the United States to tell the FBI specific people to investigate nor it is proper to direct the Attorney General in such a manner.

Indeed, this is the basic behavior for which he was impeached at the start of this year (otherwise known as a decade ago in perceived time).

They do not personally work for him–a fact he simply does not understand. That Barr, who had been far more of a toady than a real AG is not willing to help out on this Biden nonsense should speak volumes.

Trump’s simplemindedness continues to amaze. And it really shows how much he lucked into a perfect storm of an opponent in 2016. It would appear he doesn’t really understand why Clinton’s e-mail server was an issue (or that he got a lot of help from the media and Comey). He seems to think that he created the attack on her by chanting “lock her up” and so all he needs to do is call Biden a “criminal” and hope for further assists from the FBI Director.

In short: the FBI is not an oppo research firm for the president, nor should the be AG his consigliere.

All of this made me think of a tweet from Jacob Levy I saw this morning:

In all honesty, I think that this may well explain Trump’s current behaviors as well as anything else. Hopefully at this point everyone is disabused of the notion that he was ever playing multidimensional chess.

Side note for those who have bought the notion that the mainstream press are covering up for Biden.

That is nonsense.

First, 2016 should be enough evidence to demonstrate that the press, regardless of its alleged biases, will go after a Democratic nominee. The press helped HRC lose in 2016, both by flogging the e-mail story and by giving Trump a ton of free media exposure (I’m looking at you, Morning Joe).

Second, as I have repeatedly noted, newspapers, news web sites, cable TV programs, and so forth are first, and foremost, biased towards readers/clicks/viewers. And if the NYT could break a truly explosive story about Biden they absolutely would. The fact that this stuff is in the NY Post, the Washington Examiner, and The Washington Times (not mention web sites like Gateway Pundit should tell you all you need to know about these stories).

Because, third, even if you live in a world wherein you think the NYT, WaPo, CNN, whatever, are in the tank for the Dems, how do you explain the lack of interest from the Wall Street Journal or the journalistic wing of Fox News Channel? Or any number other possible venues?

FILED UNDER: 2020 Election, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. 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


  1. Modulo Myself says:

    These emails seem to be dating from 2017. What would the charge even be? Though a private citizen he is a Democrat and running against Trump in 2020, so it was illegal for him to be mentioned in an email from 2017? No Democrats are allowed to be in business, only Republicans? Or is it simply illegal to run against Trump?

  2. gVOR08 says:

    @Modulo Myself: Hey, it ain’t much, but it’s all they’ve got.

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @gVOR08: More like it’s all they could cook up. Not only do they need some new recipes with different ingredients, they need somebody who actually knows what they are doing with a skillet.

  4. Modulo Myself says:


    Biden’s 2017 returns show around 10 million from two S corps–Celticapri and Giacoppa. There’s no disclosure of what this money consists of and it’s certainly not being taken as a wage. I’m sure it’s all legal lol. In a different world where Trump and fam haven’t spent four years cashing in on everything while giving away tax cuts and nominating moron Christians as judges, there might be actually be a nugget of truth in the attack on Biden.

  5. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    Ironcally, the side bar has a link to a previous post titled

    William Barr is Exactly the Kind of Attorney General Trump Always Wanted

    Apparently, exactly is somewhat of an overstatement because just like in the joke about lab rats, there are some things that Barr won’t do.

    Who knew?

  6. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    Kudo’s to Jacob Levy for seeing the connection between the Trump Campaign and the “writing” of professional wrestling plots. I hadn’t paid attention to the repetitious elements of the Hunter Biden story revolution. Great catch!

  7. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:While I will agree with you, I will note that those same old tired recipes have made Vince McMahon far more wealthy than Trump will ever be in real life–and Trump knows it to, even if he’d never admit it. Trump going to the same formula again is his attempt in real life to do the same sort of catching lightning in a bottle that McMahon inexplicably does over and over.d

    (And say what you want about it being a niche audience, but a niche that can sell hundreds of “Wrestlemania Vacation Packages” at $10k plus a throw for 30-some years now is a lucrative niche.)

  8. JohnSF says:

    @Modulo Myself:
    After a quick look it appears to me that these are vehicles for managing the Bidens’ incomes and expenses re. public appearances, office operations etc.
    I am neither a lawyer nor an accountant, but I suspect it is simply much simpler to manage political campaigning through such means.

    Although it is also true that the “person-as-a-company” approach (and even more the “one-person-company-with-said-person-as-sole-employee” wheeze) has become increasingly in need of a long reforming look.of

  9. JohnSF says:

    “look.of”? “looking at.” dammit.

  10. Scott F. says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    I’d say Trump’s release of their own recording of the Lesley Stahl interview is a repetition as well, this time of the Ukraine phone call.

    Though he comes off as boorish, entitled, and evasive, he’s convinced that Stahl is the one who comes off poorly and he’s a victim of her vindictiveness. Just like with his Ukraine call, he was perfect. He expects this will “exonerate” him in the same way. He seems to have forgotten he was impeached the last time he proved his innocence.

  11. Modulo Myself says:


    That’s probably true. I’m not a lawyer so I have no idea about the ins and outs of getting 10 million in fees and book advances and then having most of it be recognized as distributions rather than wage. It seems like a pretty non-aggressive way for someone who made 10 million in a year to file their taxes. Basically wage earners are chumps and that’s the game.

    What’s funny about the ‘scandal’ here is that Biden is supposedly Joe Lunchbox with a used-car salesman dad and he connects to real people. Nothing more used-car salesman dad that having a troubled kid end up using your dealership to start a sketchy jet-ski dealership.

  12. gVOR08 says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    Biden’s 2017 returns show around 10 million from two S corps–Celticapri and Giacoppa. There’s no disclosure of what this money consists of and it’s certainly not being taken as a wage. I’m sure it’s all legal lol.

    Forbes doesn’t think it’s a big secret.

    The bulk of the Bidens’ big payday came from a book deal and speaking engagements. Joe Biden routed his book and speaking payments through a company named CelticCapri Corp., which took in $9.5 million in 2017 and $2.7 million in 2018. His memoir, Promise Me, Dad, came out in November 2017 and has sold over 300,000 copies. On his financial disclosure report, Biden listed 30 book tour events, which paid him a total of $1.8 million, plus another 19 speaking engagements that provided $2.4 million.
    Jill Biden also made big money after her tenure as America’s Second Lady. Her company, Giacoppa, took in about $560,000 in speaking engagement fees.

  13. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: How many wrestling fans are there in America and when was the last time they were an important demographic in an election? trump got very lucky in 2016, the equivalent of diving thru the eye of a needle at 60 mph with cement shoes.

    I’m not saying trump isn’t dumb enough to think he did it all thru pure skill and could easily do it again, because I’ve been watching him mix the cement, pour it into the buckets, and then stand in it for 3 years so it would set good and hard. And now he’s got the GOP driving a car at 60 mph towards the midwest needle and he’s all set to dive thru it and….

    They’ve run out of gas because the looted the bank account.

  14. Kathy says:


    You know, Obama should name an outrageously high fee he gets for speaking engagements. That way, Trump Pessimus won’t even get out of bed for less than double what Obama gets.

    No one will pay that much, of course. But either this shuts him up, or will make him miserable because he’ll feel like he’s losing money with every dollar he makes. Kind of like Tantalus ended up, with the hamberders and diet coke forever just out of his reach.

  15. Modulo Myself says:


    Again, I’m not a professional, but all that his returns show was what the S corp paid out to him. There’s no way of knowing, I think, some Chinese firm paid his corp a fee of 1 million and it hasn’t been dispersed to Biden without seeing their taxes.

  16. David S. says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    What’s funny about the ‘scandal’ here is that Biden is supposedly Joe Lunchbox with a used-car salesman dad and he connects to real people. Nothing more used-car salesman dad that having a troubled kid end up using your dealership to start a sketchy jet-ski dealership.

    I… I can’t tell whether or not this is intentionally a rehash of the Leverage episode where a predatory home-repair dad has a troubled kid using his company to finance a ski resort. Why is it so hard to distinguish these things???

  17. CSK says:

    “I will be nominating Christopher A. Wray, a man of impeccable credentials, to be the new Director of the FBI. Details to follow.”

    Donald Trump, Twitter, 7:44 a.m., June 7, 2017.

    Golly, Trump thought Wray was swell back in the day.

  18. Tad Daniel says:

    To me the disgrace is not the Trump does these things constantly it’s the Republicans at best look the other way, or worse see nothing wrong with his behavior, or worst agree with it.

  19. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:When did I ever say wrestling fans are an important demographic? My comment was about connections between pro wrestling “scripting” and Trump campaign strategy. I thought it was interesting; you don’t. Okey doke.

  20. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Modulo Myself:
    Yep. There may be a few deluded souls out there who are dead certain their kid won’t fuck up, but there aren’t many.

  21. Raoul says:

    It has to be mentioned besides Hillary’s suboptimal email management practices, the Russian hack, Comey, and the Podesta emails is that the emails contained nothing- they was really not story there- the press played up a scandal before there was one and lo and behold there was none. It is amazing how everybody got riled up about nothing. I think that’s one of the considerations now by the press- Biden’s emails, even if authenticated, don’t show anything.

  22. JohnSF says:

    Spot. On.

    As I posted on other active thread:

    Whoever’s running this thinks they are being very clever.
    They are putting out first “evidence” then “corroboration” (both of which are highly dubious but difficult to fully test without access to the physical(-ish) evidence; the original “Hunter Biden” laptop hard drive plus related email server logs and third party copies; and the testimony under oath of the witnesses, with related examination of their communications etc etc.
    And this won’t take place because nothing illegal is being alleged

    But the tactic is falling flat; to the fury of the Trumpeters.

  23. Matt says:

    @Raoul: Qanon started out as an attempt to turn those Podesta emails into something outrageous and evil…

  24. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Hey, YOU brought it up. 😉

  25. MarkedMan says:

    @Modulo Myself: Many small business sole proprietors don’t pay themselves salaries but instead take distributions. As far as I know there is no difference in tax ramifications to the individuals.

  26. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Michael Reynolds: As a father of 2 sons, I go to bed every night praying to a god I know doesn’t exist that they *stay out of prison* one more night.

    ** most people have no idea how easy it is to cross over the line. As one who danced with the devil, I know how lucky I am.

  27. Michael Reynolds says:


    As one who danced with the devil, I know how lucky I am.

    Ditto. And the worst part is knowing my eldest has my DNA. Unfortunately she also knows my history. And what exactly was it you were doing at age 23, Dad? Hmm?

  28. JohnSF says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    Similar conversations with nephews and nieces re. their parents.
    As a caring uncle, I feel it my duty to inform them at length of the whole cautionary and sordid details.
    I’m nice like that.