The Portland Hell-Raiser: This Week in Trumpland Corruption
From mayhem in the Rose City to country club shenanigans, it was a week to remember
Is there enough graft, double-dealing, and self-interested chicanery in the Trump administration to publish this column every week? Only time — and Trump — will tell. (But we feel pretty confident.) Presenting this week’s installment of the Trump Corruption Index.
A complaint filed with the Federal Election Commission Tuesday by the Campaign Legal Center alleges the Trump campaign and its fundraising committee has disregarded campaign finance law by funneling more than $170 million through shell firms headed by Brad Parscale, Trump’s former campaign manager. The Campaign Legal Center claims that these companies would then “disburse the funds to the campaign’s ultimate vendors, thereby concealing the campaign’s transactions with those vendors,” potentially allowing the Trump team to shield indirect payments to its own staffers and their associates. Vice points out that, if proven true, this would put the Trump campaign in violation of the Federal Election Campaign Act, which mandates that campaigns disclose the name and address of any person or entity that receives over $200.
- Corrupt-o-meter (out of a possible 5 emojis): 💰💰💸💸
A cadre of grifters
Newly obtained internal emails show that senior Trump adviser Jared Kushner was advised in December 2019 by the top White House ethics official to divest his interest in Cadre, a real estate investment platform, to avoid any conflicts of interest. Yet Kushner has thus far ignored that advice, and CNBC reported earlier this month that he has decided to remain an investor in Cadre. In May, the company announced it would create an opportunistic fund to target investment opportunities brought on by the pandemic.
- Corrupt-o-meter: 💵
A swing and a miss
The New York Times reported last week that in February 2018, Trump convinced the U.S. ambassador to Britain, Robert Wood Johnson IV, to ask the U.K. government to relocate the British Open golf tournament to the Trump Turnberry resort in Scotland. Though Trump, as president, is immune from conflict-of-interest law, he’s not above the Constitution’s emoluments clause, which prevents federal officials from taking gifts or payments from foreign governments. In this case, the emoluments clause would have meant that payments by British or Scottish governments to the president for tournament security were illegal.
- Corrupt-o-meter: 🏌️♂️🏌️♂️
Going postal, very slowly
An internal memo by the U.S. Postal Service obtained by Fortune warns that the struggling federal agency may slow down mail delivery as it continues to implement cost-cutting measures, such as the elimination of late service and overtime for hundreds of thousands of employees. The policy shifts came shortly after the appointment of new Postmaster General Louis DeJoy — a major Trump donor who also owned tens of millions in assets in USPS competitors or contractors — and threatens the likely unprecedented number of absentee ballots to be mailed in during the general election.
- Corrupt-o-meter: ✉️✉️📮
A suspicious red light for New York’s travel program
House Democrats said over the weekend they would be investigating potential political motivations behind the Department of Homeland Security’s now-lifted ban on New York residents from taking part in the Trusted Traveler Program (TPP), a federal program that expedites passenger security checks at airports and international borders. DHS’s exclusion of New York from the TPP came in February, two months after the Empire State had implemented its own “Green Light Law” that allowed undocumented migrants to apply for driver’s licenses and blocked DHS from accessing information from the Department of Motor Vehicles without a court order.
- Corrupt-o-meter: 🗽🍎
Trump’s vicious cycle
A senior White House official admitted to the Washington Post last week that one of the Trump administration’s motivations for sending federal troops into U.S. cities was to manufacture scenes of apparent lawlessness, which his team could then leverage through “viral online content.” And with yet more federal agents now set to enter Portland, Trump appears determined to continue his strategy of urban provocation — a tactic that has in turn prompted large protests and riots in other cities like Seattle and Oakland, and which Trump seems likely to again use as justification for his deployment of troops.
- Corrupt-o-meter: 🐦🐦⌨️⌨️