On Trial For Campaign Crimes, Trump Brazenly Solicits A Very Big Bribe

On Trial For Campaign Crimes, Trump Brazenly Solicits A Very Big Bribe

Nobody likes Big Oil, a monopolistic and heavily polluting industry with a legendary history of abusing its excessive power that can be traced back over the past hundred years.

But Donald Trump has promised to be the oil industry's best friend — if its bosses give him a billion dollars.

In the latest instance of the former president's mind-blowing corruption, he is reported to have entertained a group of two dozen top U.S. oil company executives at Mar-a-Lago. Over dinner at his Palm Beach sanctum, Trump is quoted as telling the chiefs of Chevron, ExxonMobil, and Occidental Petroleum and their colleagues that if they collectively coughed up $1 billion to ensure his reelection, he would take very good care of their corporate needs.

According to The Washington Post, he promised to toss out all of President Joe Biden's efforts to mitigate climate change, including new rules aimed at reducing automotive exhaust and promoting electric vehicles. For that measly billion bucks, he vowed to increase oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, where we have already seen catastrophic well blowouts, rescind restrictions on drilling in the Alaskan wilderness, pull down the windmills that he hates, and cancel the recent White House decision to pause new natural gas export permits.

"You'll get it on the first day," said Trump, according to someone who was present and blabbed to the Post. Speaking as crudely as any gangster, he informed the oilmen that they and their companies can easily raise that kind of money, and that paying him off would be "a deal" because of the high return on their investment.

No doubt they found it hard to argue with Trump's logic, since oil lobbyists are already writing dozens of executive orders that they want him to rubber-stamp if and when he returns to the Oval Office.

So is anybody surprised?

Only perhaps by the audacity of Trump explicitly soliciting a gigantic bribe, before a large group of witnesses, at a time when he is in fact on trial for campaign finance offenses and facing scores of additional criminal charges. But he has never felt abashed in displaying his venality. He lives in a world of miscreants who behave much the same way, from his son-in-law Jared Kushner, who sought and obtained an even bigger payoff from the Saudi dictator, to his adviser Steve Bannon, who will face criminal charges next fall for swindling the dopey donors to his fake "We Build the Wall" outfit.

As the eminent journalist Laurie Garrett observed on social media, Trump's attempt to extort the oil industry echoes one of the greatest government scandals in American history, under another Republican president owned by corporate power. Beginning in 1921, the Teapot Dome affair implicated officials of President Warren G. Harding's administration in the crooked leasing of public lands for oil exploration. Harding's Interior secretary Albert B. Fall ultimately went to prison for bribery, although none of the oilmen who paid him off did any time.

What we can expect from a second Trump administration is the most naked orgy of swindling and boodling that this country has ever seen. He thoroughly exploited the presidency during his first term, as outlined in my forthcoming book, The Longest Con. But his second term, should such a disaster occur, would be the conman's last big chance to score, and he can be expected to enrich himself to the maximum — at ruinous cost to the rest of us.

Joe Conason is founder and editor-in-chief of The National Memo.He is also editor-at-large of Type Investigations, a nonprofit investigative reporting newsroom formerly known as The Investigative Fund, and a senior fellow at Type Media Center. His new book, The Longest Con: How Grifters, Swindlers and Frauds Hijacked American Conservatism, will be published by St. Martin's Press in July 2024.

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