Drain The Swamp? Bribe-Gorging Trump Embodies The Swamp

Former President Donald Trump

Former President Donald Trump

Eight short years ago, a Washington outsider and political neophyte was barnstorming the country promising to diligently safeguard our national secrets and “drain the swamp” of corruption and the undue influence of wealthy interests.

Today, that dude awaits trial on 40 felony charges for allegedly stealing, refusing to return, and irresponsibly sharing top secret government documents with a handful of random jabronis he was trying to impress. So let’s see how that other promise is going, shall we?

Of course, there is something superficially appealing about a candidate who can finance their entire campaign, as it would remove at least the appearance of corruption from their administration. Unfortunately, Donald Trump is the rare politician who might agree to put lead back in pipes if he got a late-night call from the Lead Council and they offered to send someone over to explain the abstruse science behind lead safety—and why the display on his VCR won’t stop blinking “12:00.” And if they also promised him $25 million for the right to poison innocent kids’ brains, of course. But that part goes without saying.

A new report from The Washington Postshows the extent to which Trump—who’s strapped for cash and facing mounting legal fees due to, erm, mounting legal troubles—is prepared to betray his 2016 promise to hold himself above the grotesqueries of transactional Washington politics.

The Post relates one incident in which Trump claimed he rebuffed a businessman who offered $1 million to support his reelection, insisting that the price tag for a casual lunch date was far higher.

“I’m not having lunch,” Trump claimed he told the man. “You’ve got to make it $25 million.”

Of course, it’s fair to ask what that businessman thought he was purchasing, considering the “Trump Masticating” OnlyFans account is by far the least popular feed on the platform. But Trump clearly knows the score, as do his donors. The only question is whether enough voters will catch on before the Grand Canyon is transformed overnight into the world’s largest McDonald’s Playland ball pit.

As he closed his pitch at the Pierre Hotel, Trump explained to the group why it was in their interest to cut large checks. If he was not put back in office, taxes would go up for them under President Biden, who vows to let Trump-era tax cuts on the wealthy and corporations expire at the end of 2025.

Seconds after promising the tax cuts, Trump made his pitch explicit. “So whatever you guys can do, I appreciate it,” he said.

The remarks are just one example of a series of audacious requests by Trump for big-money contributions in recent months, according to 11 donors, advisers and others close to the former president, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe his fundraising. The pleas for millions in donations come as the presumptive Republican nominee seeks to close a cash gap with Biden and to pay for costly legal bills in his four criminal indictments.

In other words … swamp, drained. Congratulations, America!

Of course, among the “audacious requests” the Post mentions is Trump’s offer to oil execs to help destroy the planet for good in exchange for a cool $1 billion. And now he appears to be making explicit what’s always been well understood: The money wealthy Americans funnel to Republican politicians will flow back to them manyfold in the form of corporate welfare, significantly lower tax burdens, and the wholesale gutting of regulations.

Oh, and Trump’s latest overtures may very well be illegal. Then again, so is stealing government secrets and trying to nullify a free and fair election, yet that hardly seems to matter to tens of millions of Americans these days.

The Post spoke with campaign finance lawyer Larry Noble, who said Trump can legally only ask for contributions of $3,300 or less for his campaign but “can appear at events for his super PAC where the price of admission is far higher—as long as he doesn’t ask for the money directly.”

“He can’t say, ‘I want you to give me $1 million,’” Noble asserted.

But wait—didn’t he do exactly that? Well, good luck nailing that down. As The Post notes, even if it’s abundantly clear that Trump stepped over the line in requesting the cash, the Federal Election Commission is currently composed of three Republicans and three Democrats, and those three Republicans might as well be Judge Aileen Cannon’s cats.

Of course, it’s fair to ask whether Trump is already fatally compromised given his personal money troubles, which stem from legal bills related to his four felony cases and the civil judgments connected to his confirmed sexual assaulting and business frauding.

As Vox noted in March, government ethics experts have become increasingly alarmed over Trump’s financial woes, particularly since he’s been so transparently transactional in the past:

“It’s pretty scary from an ethics perspective,” said Virginia Canter, the chief ethics counsel at the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a nonpartisan watchdog group that has chronicled Trump’s abuses of power and filed lawsuits against him.

You don’t have to look far to find the reasons why. Trump’s first term was riddled with conflicts of interest, and that’s in no small part because of his financial well-being (or lack thereof, depending on how you look at it). At the time that he tried to overturn the 2020 election, he was hundreds of millions of dollars in debt, largely stemming from loans to help rehabilitate his struggling businesses, and most of which would be coming due over the subsequent four years. Throughout his presidency, he refused to divest from his businesses, which made millions of dollars in revenue from taxpayers and continued to do work with other countries while he was in office — a practice he indicated he would repeat in a second term.

Also recall that Trump willingly accepted millions of dollars from foreign governments while cosplaying as president; allowed his daughter and son-in-law to skip town with 34 Chinese trademarks and $2 billion in Saudi money, respectively; tried to force the G-7 to hold its 2020 summit at one of his properties (a move so corrupt even Fox News noticed); and attempted to extort Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy into smearing Joe Biden in exchange for badly needed military aid.

And that’s just what we know about—and what I was able to recall off the top of my perpetually swimming drowning head.

Of course, anyone who ever believed Trump was serious about draining the Washington swamp needs to have their own head examined. After all, this is the same guy who once bragged he’d be the only president in history to make money running for president. (He didn't achieve that dubious feat, but he did manage to funnel $12.5 million in campaign cash to his own businesses while running in 2016.)

It’s also the same dude who dishonestly promoted his 2017 Tax Cut and Jobs Act as a middle-class boon and rich man’s bane, before blithely telling his wealthy friends, in the hours after it was signed into law, “you all just got a lot richer.”

In other words, it’s always been abundantly clear who Trump really works for—and how far he’s willing to go to appease his real base. The fact that anyone still believes he’s a champion for workers and the middle class shows how delinquent much of the media have been in upholding basic democratic traditions and principles—and explaining obvious shit to a country on the brink of repeating one of the worst mistakes it’s ever made.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

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