UPDATES FROM THE SWAMP

[I said once-weekly updates but fair warning: this week, at least, is going to take two. Part 1 below:]

Trump’s campaign promise of “draining the swamp” hasn’t gotten off to a great start so far. D.C. is looking swampier than ever. I mean, when your first week in office is met with articles like “Advice for Those Weighing Jobs in the Trump Administration: Assessing the risks of service,” by George W. Bush’s former speechwriter and “Should You Resign from the Trump Administration?” by a dude with 18 years of bipartisan experience in the State Department, it’s not a good sign.

Let’s look at some specifics, shall we? This article sheds some seriously unflattering light on the Presidential transition; there’s a lot to unpack there but I take special note of the following quote. “Trent Lott, a lobbyist close to several people on the transition, said the transition team was relying on lobbyists and others for lists of potential hires and policy recommendations.” It’s interesting that despite Trump’s excoriation of lobbyists on the campaign trail, he doesn’t seem to mind them much now; in fact, he’s already met with lobbyists from the pharmaceutical industries, and been persuaded to drop his promise to let Medicare negotiate prescription drug prices.

There’s been a whole bunch of issues with Trump’s cabinet and executive nominees. Here’s the low-hanging fruit:

Democratic Senators boycotted the committee vote on Mnuchin and Price. The Republicans then changed the procedural rules and allowed a vote to proceed in committee anyway.

A leaked email shows that Trump tried to replace all the Inspectors General at each federal agency, which matters because Inspectors general are “independent watchdogs who are typically in place for an indefinite period, regardless of the party in charge.”

Kellyanne Conway was roasted for using the phrase “alternative facts” in an on-air disagreement about the size of President Trump’s inaugural crowd. She’s being called the greatest spin doctor in modern American history. Sean Spicer has already gained notoriety for lying in his press conferences. These articles pair nicely with a legitimately horrifying speech by the chair of the House Science Committee, which included the line “Better to get your news directly from the president. In fact, it might be the only way to get the unvarnished truth.”

I’ll pass, thanks.

In other news, Congressional staffers signed non-disclosure agreements to work on the “immigration ban” executive order (why this matters). Trump brought a cheering section along to his CIA visit after the inauguration; silenced government scientists with gag orders; made the White House comments opening Black History month all about himself; asked for prayer for the TV ratings of his show The Apprentice at the National Prayer Breakfast; and politicized the National Security Council (more on this in my next news round up). Angela Merkel apparently had to explain the Geneva Conventions to Trump over the phone.

Meanwhile, Trump still has yet to release his tax returns, and his business is actively receiving direct payments from foreign agents. He has not provided any evidence that he has followed through on his commitment to resign from his companies.

I’ll end here with this photo of Eric Trump and Donald Trump, Jr. meeting with Orin Hatch in the White House, which could also be captioned “Executives running the business the President owns meeting with the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee in the White House.” (This is example #1 of why “I’m handing the business to my children” doesn’t fly as a solution to the ethics problems posed by the Trump organization. Even the appearance of impropriety is important when you are THE LEADER OF THE FREE WORLD.)

 

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