— Ben Howe (@BenHowe) November 11, 2016
Earlier today RedState reported on the unsurprising news that despite his calls to #DrainTheSwamp, Donald Trump’s transition team is full of Swamp Things. NBC’s Hallie Jackson just tweeted a list of new additions to the Presidential Transition Team Executive Committee. A few of the names raise the question of whether the swamp is being drained or if it’s just being dredged to make room for more bottom feeders. Most notable on the list is Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi whose relationship with Trump looks much like the #PayForPlay corruption for which Trump consistently attacked Hillary Clinton during the campaign.
— Hallie Jackson (@HallieJackson) November 11, 2016
Bondi’s presence, at the very least, creates the appearance of impropriety. Trump donated $25,000 to Bondi’s PAC around the same time that Bondi’s office decided not to pursue the fraud case against Trump University. Back in June, the AP reported on the sketchy looking chain of events.
The new disclosure from Attorney General Pam Bondi’s spokesman to The Associated Press on Monday provides additional details around the unusual circumstances of Trump’s $25,000 donation to Bondi.
The money came from a Trump family foundation in apparent violation of rules surrounding political activities by charities. A political group backing Bondi’s re-election, called And Justice for All, reported receiving the check Sept. 17, 2013 — four days after Bondi’s office publicly announced she was considering joining a New York state probe of Trump University’s activities, according to a 2013 report in the Orlando Sentinel.
After the check came in, Bondi’s office nixed suing Trump, citing insufficient grounds to proceed.
Bondi declined repeated requests for an interview on Monday, referring all questions to Marc Reichelderfer, a political consultant who worked for her most re-election effort.
The article also notes how Trump often boasted about buying politicians.
The timing of the donation by Trump is notable because the now presumptive Republican presidential nominee has said he expects and receives favors from politicians to whom he gives money.
“When I want something I get it,” Trump said at an Iowa rally in January. “When I call, they kiss my ass. It’s true.”
That was before the campaign limited Trump to reading prepared speeches—back when Trump still often showed who he really is.
Also problematic is the presence of Trump’s sons, to whom he is entrusting his business empire while he is in office. I wrote earlier this week about how there is really no precedent for the kinds of conflicts of interest Trump’s presidency presents. In the article I cited in that post, Donald Trump Jr. is quoted as saying that he and Trump’s other children won’t be involved in government.
Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. has insisted that Trump’s holdings would go into a blind trust managed by him and his siblings Eric and Ivanka Trump.
“We’re not going to be involved in government,” Trump Jr. said in September on “Good Morning America.” “He wants nothing to do with [the company]. He wants to fix this country.”
When pressed over the potential of Trump and his family still discussing the business while Trump is in office, Trump Jr. said, “We’re not going to discuss those things. … Trust me. As you know, it’s a very full-time job. He doesn’t need to worry about the business. The business is in good hands. He trusts us with that, 100 percent.”
“Trust me.” Yeah, ok. Isn’t being on the transition team an involvement with government?
There are a lot of problems with Trump simply handing the keys to his empire to his children. Even if they’re not actively trying to use White House influence for private sector gain, Trump’s presidency will undoubtedly influence how various entities around the world deal with his companies. That would be true even if his kids strictly followed through with the promise not to be involved with government, which it appears they have already set aside.
And then of course there’s Stephen K. Bannon who sold the soul of Andrew Breitbart’s new media revolution, turning it into a propaganda arm for the Trump campaign, just to buy himself a seat at the table.
It is way too early to take Trump’s promises to drain the swamp as anything more than marketing copy. He is staffing up with too many reptiles who thrive in the muck.