Saagar Enjeti blasts Biden’s potential administration after reports from The American Prospect detail how strategic consultants will define Biden’s cabinet.
The American Prospect: How Biden’s Foreign-Policy Team Got Rich
Transcript00:00all right Sagar what’s on your radar00:01well the RealClearPolitics average has00:03Joe Biden up 8.7% Achon average over the00:07last three weeks nationally and in every00:09single battleground state and yesterday00:11we featured this map on the show it00:13shows that the upper bound of what is00:16electoral possibility in November is a00:18massive electoral landslide none of this00:21is a guarantee as we learned in 2016 but00:24what does it mean is that we have to00:26start taking very seriously what it00:29actually means for Joe Biden to become00:31President of the United States and00:33commander-in-chief this is especially00:35relevant after the most recent deep00:37state plot to derail Afghan peace00:39negotiations and the bipartisan push to00:41keep thousands of troops in Afghanistan00:43for no reason our friends over at the00:45American Prospect gave us a distressing00:47look into what exactly we’re dealing00:49with here on the national security front00:51if Biden ever ascends to the Oval Office00:54and just how deep the swamp will extend00:57inside the prospect details how to close01:00Biden associates Anthony blinken and01:02Michele Flournoy decided to start a01:04boutique consulting firm for defense01:06contractors and fortune 100 companies01:09after they unexpectedly found themselves01:11without a job in here with Hillary01:13Clinton’s administration blinken and01:15flora Noyes practice entails helping01:17tech companies try to get Pentagon01:19contracts helping defense contractors01:21get more contracts and basically01:23advertising itself as a one-stop01:25consulting shop for any massive01:27corporation that wants help influencing01:29the national security or diplomatic01:31swamp now in a particularly galling01:33section of their website the pair01:35literally advertise that they can help01:37major companies quote develop a strategy01:39for expanding market access in China01:42blinken and Flournoy are not going to be01:45low-level aides in a Biden01:46administration floor annoy was well01:49known in Washington to be the next01:51Secretary of Defense in waiting under01:53hillary clinton administration i01:54personally attended an event with her01:57and biden in 2016 in which biden02:00jokingly called her Madame secretary and02:02which she jokingly referred to Biden as02:04mr. president blinken on the other hand02:06was deputy national security adviser02:08under Obama and a Deputy Secretary of02:11State02:12recent Biden campaign event he was02:15introduced as quote senior foreign02:17policy advisor and the rest of Biden’s02:19foreign policy team is exactly the same02:21as the prospect lists including Nicholas02:23burns of the Coen Group Kurt Campbell of02:26the Asia group Tom Donilon of Blackrock02:29Investment Institute Wendy Sherman of02:32the Albright Stonebridge group and02:34former Hillary adviser Jake Sherman of02:36macro advisory partners you beginning to02:39sense a theme here former very high02:41ranking national security officials now02:43working as outright consultants for02:45finance Sears and Chinese companies and02:47defense contract or companies who take02:49those people on as clients does any of02:52this bother Joe Biden02:53well when the prospect asked his02:55campaign for comment this is what they02:57had to say quote there’s a difference03:00between consulting and lobbying and that03:03here’s a pretty strong line there so03:05presumably we don’t have to have a ban03:07on people who were consultants at one03:09time on another since I am one myself it03:12is just too good to be true03:14what’s disgusting about this is the pure03:17nakedness of it all Michele Flournoy as03:20they point out literally serves on the03:21presidential intelligence advisory on03:23the CIA directors external advisory03:26board on the Pentagon’s defense policy03:28board she has access to very classified03:30and important information who knows what03:32she is and isn’t using to influence her03:35advice to the most powerful corporations03:37in the world under Biden they will this03:40is only going to ramp up a member of the03:42firm that floor annoyin blinken found it03:44even admitted to the prospect that Biden03:46would be great for business saying quote03:48think about it if Biden were to win we03:50do think that companies will start03:52coming to West exec for hey what is the03:55Commerce Secretary thinking the clear03:57picture we’re getting here Biden and his03:59team is that they’re not rigidly04:01ideological if they were outright04:03neo-cons04:04in a way I would respect it more but04:06worse they are transactional neo04:08liberals who will tell you with a04:10straight face that they believe in04:12making the country a better place while04:13enriching themselves off perpetuating04:16the status quo that can’t afford to get04:18out of Afghanistan because it would hurt04:20their clients they can’t afford to pull04:23back from Europe because it would hurt04:24their a bit04:25consult companies who want to do04:27business with NATO the grifting list is04:30on and on and on and the wholesale04:33ownership of Biden’s foreign policy team04:34by this system and his inability to push04:37back against it is a signature of some04:40very troubled times to come in the next04:42four years if he ever ascends to the04:45presidency and crystal I mean I don’t04:47know if you read this piece but it is04:48stunning because it’s not just blinking04:50and floran wise he points out every04:52single person works for some consultancy04:55group and then not even that it’s just04:57it’s the naked lack of reporting why04:59does this have to come from a05:01progressive left outlet you should in05:03the new york times be investigating this05:05is manna ford stone level stuff right05:07yeah they don’t care because it’s just05:09normal it’s like a normal grift of05:11washout yet that everybody is just like05:13oh yeah you know she made a couple05:14million bucks here a couple million05:16bucks they’re gonna be the next defense05:17secretary who knows how many contracts05:19gonna steer their way to somebody’s05:21friend oh good just normal now they’re05:23like the fish swimmin in the ocean they05:25can’t see the water this is just like05:26the way things are done indeed I mean it05:29reminds me a lot of you know when we05:31were talking about hunter Biden05:35congressman Ted Louise like people serve05:37on boards right make money the fact that05:41is normal doesn’t mean it’s okay that05:43actually makes it so much worse and I05:46really encourage people to go read this05:48piece it’s it’s such an important look05:50inside the way that policy is actually05:53made and the human beings who are at the05:56table and the interest sometimes that05:58are secret by the way they’re not06:00upfront about life they don’t have I’m06:03also you know I’m also working with06:04Northrop Grumman just so you know so06:06when I’m advocating for like this06:07missile system that they have to make06:09you might want to know that piece of06:11information I mean that is literally06:12laid out in this piece and it is06:15completely common operating procedure in06:17this town so on the one hand it’s just06:19like it’s so normal that they don’t even06:21think to report on it and look into who06:24the individuals are who they represent06:26how that might influence their policy06:28and on the other hand the other piece of06:30this is like so much of our political06:32coverage I touched on this yesterday06:34when we were talking about Susan Rice’s06:35potential VP06:37or any of the other potential VP picks06:39it’s all just treated as horserace yes06:42and personality driven and like06:44demographic driven like what boxes do06:46they check rather than actually digging06:49into the substance and the policy and06:51what that might mean for an06:52administration especially when you do06:54have someone like Joe Biden that’s the06:55other piece that’s interesting here is06:57they talk about the way that he’s a06:58perch for the policy it sounds actually07:00a lot like Trump yeah it’s very07:02personality driven he has this like07:03glad-hand approach he he believes in07:06these personal relationships many of07:08which have gotten him into a lot of07:09trouble in terms of his decision-making07:11trusting people and leaders that he07:13really has arrested one of the best07:15parts of the piece yeah about I forgot07:17actually this because this is my07:18background he was the guy who backed07:21Nuri al-maliki right Iran who is the07:24person who started a sectarian civil war07:26gave rise to Isis Andrew into the07:29country after he was like his but yeah07:33and it was like fighting walked into07:34Iraq thinking he was dealing with to07:36Delaware political bosses is like yeah07:38it turns out the sunni-shia conflict is07:40a lot more complicated right and then07:42maybe we should apply a little bit more07:43intellectual rigor there that is07:45actually the piece that worries the most07:47because you can see it right now on07:48Afghanistan because Biden and his team07:51are like Oh Trump wants to get out of07:52Afghanistan they’re gonna abandon Biden07:55has a record of pushing restraint in07:57Afghanistan his entire record was saying07:59hey don’t do this let’s do the08:00counterterrorism thing even in 2006-200708:03he was writing op-eds against the surge08:05which is a long history of being anti08:08intervention whenever that was the08:09politically convenient kind of08:11contrarian thing to do right but this08:12goes to show with Susan Rice doing the08:15Afghanistan thing and I played his08:17comments here over last week we talked08:18about dereliction of duty for Trump and08:20all of that about how we have to stand08:22up to the Russians I just that’s when08:23you really knew this is a truly08:25transactional non-ideological figure who08:28will go wherever the winds blow that is08:30a disaster that is how you got Libya08:33Libya was the politically convenient08:35thing to do how did it work out for08:37everybody right maybe it would’ve been08:38better to have somebody hot saying yeah08:40nobody talks about that one well and08:42here’s something too exactly like what08:44you’re saying when you08:45have someone who doesn’t have like a08:47fixed ideology that they’re committed to08:50or an agenda overseas that they’re08:52committed to then the people that you’re08:54talking about here blink it in Flournoy08:55and all the rest they’re the ones that08:57fill in the gaps they’re the ones that08:59actually drive the policy then once it’s09:00set the range of options that are09:02available so just like we’ve seen with09:04Trump where he’s like I want to get out09:06of out get it like that’s just not even09:07an option that’s put in on the table09:09they’re like your options are you can09:10increase by five thousand ten thousand09:12or seventy-five thousand right it’s like09:13but I want to get out I don’t understand09:15that’s how they get you that’s what they09:17do every single time it’s and it’s not09:19just and some of these people are09:21ideological and then some of them just09:23have you know personal professional and09:25monetary direct monetary interests in09:28serving this particular role because09:30yeah why that well look if they go in09:32the administration they’ll cut all the09:33ties specifically those industries09:35they’ve got all those connections still09:37they know where their breads gonna be09:38buttered after they exit the09:40administration so don’t think that just09:42because they technically cut ties at09:44that point means that they have really09:46like the independence of thought doesn’t09:48even matter they admit it they’re on off09:50basically on background to this prospect09:52reporter being like yeah you know if09:54Biden being the president that’d be09:55great for us great for people we’ll call09:57for us and be like what is the former09:58West deck partner who’s now the Commerce10:01Secretary think about X that is worth10:03billions to companies right if they’re10:05like hey we need to know which way the10:07administration is probably going to10:08swing on the new Chinese tariffs that is10:10literally worth hundreds of billions of10:12dollars same on the defense secretary if10:14they’re gonna on Yemen that was the10:15example that was given there whenever10:17she was talking about how Michele10:18Flournoy was advocating I think of more10:21Patriot missiles for for Saudi Arabia10:23she failed to disclose we’re not10:25disclosed nobody knows she won’t even10:27admit which defense contractor she works10:29for and wouldn’t deny that Raytheon who10:32manufactures these Patriot missiles was10:34one of her company the only thing they10:36would say is quote one of the defense10:38primes which is one of the five largest10:40defense codes and they said like it’s10:41one of their contracts it’s in the10:43ballpark10:43know if you really want to understand10:45why we have the foreign policy that we10:48have why we keep getting into these10:49conflicts overseas that we can that’s10:51what once we get in that you can never10:53ever get yourself out of this piece10:55really lays10:57like the nitty-gritty of how that works10:59and look it is the norm basically almost11:02without exception with a few outlier11:05exceptions almost anyone who ended up in11:07the presidency these the type of people11:09who would come in and it’s by partisan I11:12mean the same ideology the same monetary11:15interest pervades both parties we saw it11:17with the Afghanistan peace that we11:19covered yesterday the amount of support11:21in Congress bipartisan support to11:24prevent the president from drawing down11:26troops in Afghanistan a place that we11:28have been for years and years and years11:30and where American lives are still being11:32put at risk for what for what this piece11:37really lays out like the internal11:39details of how exactly that girl highly11:41recommend everybody read it and I’m11:43looking forward to your raid our next11:44crystal
Lara Trump and Kimberly Guilfoyle are each receiving $15,000 per month through the campaign manager’s private company, GOP sources said, to dodge FEC rules.
President Donald Trump’s campaign is secretly paying one Trump son’s wife and another one’s girlfriend $180,000 a year each through the campaign manager’s private company, according to top Republicans with knowledge of the payments.
Kimberly Guilfoyle, the girlfriend of eldest son Donald Trump Jr., and Lara Trump, wife of middle son Eric Trump, are each receiving $15,000 a month, according to two GOP sources who are informal White House advisers and who spoke on condition of anonymity.
They were unsure when the payments began but say they are being made by campaign manager Bradley Parscale through his company rather than directly by either the campaign or the party in order to avoid public reporting requirements.
“I can pay them however I want to pay them,” Parscale told HuffPost on Friday, but then declined to comment any further.
Critics of the arrangement, including Republicans, said the setup was designed to get around Federal Election Commission rules that require campaigns, political parties and other committees to disclose their spending in detail.
“A lot of people close to Donald Trump are getting rich off of his campaign,” said Paul Ryan, a campaign finance legal expert at the watchdog group Common Cause. “They don’t want donors to know that they’re getting rich. Because, at the end of the day, it’s donor money.”
Stuart Stevens, a top aide to 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney’s campaign, was even more blunt: “That’s why Parscale has the job. He’s a money launderer, not a campaign manager.”
Lara Trump, 37, was a campaign “surrogate,” making appearances and conducting media interviews on behalf of her father-in-law, in the 2016 campaign and continues to participate in “Women for Trump” events as a 2020 campaign “senior adviser.” In early 2017, Parscale confirmed he had hired her to work for his company, which was, in turn, continuing to work for Trump’s campaign.
Guilfoyle, 51, has been accompanying Donald Trump Jr. to campaign events since they began dating two years ago. She had been a Fox News personality until she left the network in 2018. In January 2020, she was named chair of Trump Victory, a joint fundraising committee used to solicit and distribute money to the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee.
“She’s doing stuff, but she’s just like this silly cheerleader,” one of the White House advisers said of Guilfoyle. “She gets on these donor calls, and it’s ridiculous.”
The existence of the payments, but not the amounts, was first reported by The New York Times, which recounted a scene in which Guilfoyle confronted Parscale about why her payment checks were always late and Parscale responded that he would look into it. That incident took place June 18, 2019, at a Trump reelection rally in Orlando, Florida, suggesting that payments to Guilfoyle had been taking place for some time.
FEC rules require that campaigns, political parties and other committees disclose all expenditures, including payments to employees. But the Trump campaign and the RNC have been getting around it by routing many of their payments through Pascale’s private companies.
In all, Parscale’s firms ― Giles-Parscale and Parscale Strategy LLC ― have been paid $38.9 million by Trump’s campaign, the RNC, joint fundraising committees and a pro-Trump super PAC between the day Trump took office through February 2020, according to the latest filings available.
Numerous RNC officials and members did not respond to HuffPost queries about the arrangement. One who did, Arizona committee member Bruce Ash, wrote: “Drop dead!”
Trump funneling donor money into his children’s households builds on his practice of funneling it into his own pocket, which began in 2016, right after he became the presumptive Republican nominee and began raising large amounts of GOP money. Trump immediately quintupled the rent he was charging his campaign at Trump Tower, from $35,458 per month to $169,758. He also began billing the campaign five- and six-figure sums for use of his hotels and golf courses for hosting fundraisers.
Those practices continued after his election and through to this day. His campaign still pays Trump Tower $37,542 a month in rent, even though it is based in a high-rise office building in Arlington, Virginia. The campaign and the RNC continue to host fundraisers at Trump’s properties, putting hundreds of thousands of dollars at a time into his own cash registers.
All of those entities are owned by the Trump Organization, which in turn is owned by a trust that Trump created after his election and of which he is the sole beneficiary.
“Grift and graft is the family business,” said Robert Weissman, president of the liberal group Public Citizen.
The payments to Guilfoyle and Lara Trump may also complicate the Trump campaign’s efforts to attack presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden for accepting lucrative board memberships when his father was vice president.
Trump and his top aides in 2018 saw Joe Biden as the most dangerous threat to his reelection among the Democrats in the primary field and sought to damage his candidacy by raising questions about his son’s business activities. Indeed, Trump wound up getting impeached for trying to coerce the president of Ukraine into announcing an investigation into Hunter Biden, using $391 million in congressionally approved military aid as leverage.
Even some of the Republican senators who voted to acquit him said that what Trump did was wrong and illegal but not bad enough to warrant his removal from office.
It’s hard to make plans when the rules keep changing.
With each passing week it becomes ever clearer that Donald Trump’s trade war, far from being “good, and easy to win,” is damaging large parts of the U.S. economy.
- Farmers are facing financial disaster; manufacturing, which Trump’s policies were supposed to revive, is contracting;
- consumer confidence is plunging, largely because the public (rightly) fears that tariffs will raise prices.
But Trump has an answer to his critics: It’s not me, it’s you. Last week he declared that businesses claiming to have been hurt by his tariffs should blame themselves, because they’re “badly run and weak.”
As with many Trump statements, one immediate thought that comes to mind is, how would Republicans have reacted if a Democratic president said something like that? In this case, however, we don’t have to speculate.
As some readers may recall, back in 2012 Barack Obama made the obvious and true point that businesses depend on public investments in things like roads and education as well as on their own efforts. Referring to those public investments, he said, “You didn’t build that.” The usual suspects pounced, taking the line out of context and claiming that he was disrespecting entrepreneurs; Mitt Romney made this claim a centerpiece of his presidential campaign.
Attacks on Obama as being anti-business were, of course, made in bad faith. Trump, however, really is denouncing businesses and blaming them for the problems his policies have created. And tariffs aren’t the only policy area where Trump and American business are now at odds.
Some of Trump’s most consequential actions involve his frantic efforts to dismantle environmental regulation. Unlike tariffs, this may at first sound like something business would want.
It turns out, however, that many businesses want to keep those regulations in place. Major oil and gas producers oppose Trump’s relaxation of rules on emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Major auto producers have come out against Trump’s attempt to roll back fuel efficiency standards. In fact, in a move that has reportedly enraged Trump, several companies have reached an agreement with the state of California to stick with Obama-era rules despite the change in federal policy.
When Trump won his upset victory in 2016, many investors assumed that his rule would be good for business. And he did indeed give corporations a huge tax cut — which has almost entirely been used for higher dividends and stock buybacks, with workers getting essentially nothing.
Aside from the tax cut, however, it’s becoming increasingly clear that Trumpism is bad for business. Or more precisely, it’s bad for productive business.
Imagine yourself as the head of a business that plans and expects to be around for a long time. Sure, you’d like to pay less in taxes and not have to comply with costly regulations. But you also want to invest in your company’s future. And to do that, you need some assurance that the rules of the game will be stable, so that whatever investments you make now aren’t suddenly made worthless by future shifts in policy.
The big complaint business has about Trump’s trade war isn’t just that tariffs raise costs and prices, while foreign retaliation is cutting off access to important markets. It is that businesses can’t make plans when policy zigzags in response to the president’s whims. They don’t want to invest in anything that relies on a global supply chain, because that supply chain might unravel with Trump’s next tweet. But they can’t invest on the assumption that Trump’s tariffs will be permanent, either; you never know when or whether he’ll declare victory and surrender.
Environmental policy, it turns out, is similar. Business leaders aren’t do-gooders, but they are realists. Most of them understand that climate change is happening, that it’s dangerous, and that we’ll eventually have to transition to a low-emissions economy. They want to spend now to secure their place in that future economy; they know that investments that worsen climate change are bound to be long-run losers. But they’ll hold off on investing in our energy future as long as conspiracy theorists who consider global warming a gigantic hoax — and/or vindictive politicians determined to erase Obama’s achievements — keep rewriting the rules.
To be fair, however, some kinds of business do thrive under Trumpism — namely, businesses that aren’t in it for the long run, operations whose strategy is to take the money and run. These are good times for
- mining companies that rush in to extract whatever they can, leaving a poisoned landscape behind; for
- real estate speculators sponsoring dubious ventures that take advantage of newly created tax loopholes;
- for for-profit colleges that leave their students with worthless degrees and crippling debt.
In other words, under Trump it’s springtime for grifters.
But to say the obvious, these smash-and-grab operations aren’t the kinds of business we want to thrive. Put it this way: Remaking the U.S. economy in the image of Trump University isn’t exactly making America great again.
At Politicon, Tucker Carlson cited:
2007 Robert Putnam:
Ethnic diversity is increasing in most advanced countries, driven mostly by sharp increases in immigration. In the long run immigration and diversity are likely to have important cultural, economic, fiscal, and developmental benefits. In the short run, however, immigration and ethnic diversity tend to reduce social solidarity and social capital. New evidence from the US suggests that in ethnically diverse neighbourhoods residents of all races tend to ‘hunker down’. Trust (even of one’s own race) is lower, altruism and community cooperation rarer, friends fewer. In the long run, however, successful immigrant societies have overcome such fragmentation by creating new, cross‐cutting forms of social solidarity and more encompassing identities. Illustrations of becoming comfortable with diversity are drawn from the US military, religious institutions, and earlier waves of American immigration.
From Elizabeth Holmes to Fyre Festival, the stories of grifters prove compelling
THERE ARE plenty of words in English for tricking people out of their money. You can scam, hustle, bilk, gyp, flimflam, swindle, swizzle, fleece and finagle. Those who do so are grifters, con artists, hucksters, charlatans, hustlers or fraudsters. Such figures are something of a staple in popular culture: think of the champagne-chicanery of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Jay Gatsby; Frank Abagnale, Leonardo DiCaprio’s charismatic con-man in “Catch Me if You Can”; or the glitzy characters in “American Hustle”. They are not ordinary villains, causing revulsion or fear. In being able to make a fortune using little more than their wits, they become attractive, almost awe-inspiring. In both fiction and real life, scammers sell.
Stone is hardly a Bond villain come to life, but the allegations against him are one part of a bigger picture that doesn’t reflect well on the Trump campaign.
.. I posited a different theory: The Trump campaign wasn’t a collection of criminal masterminds — would masterminds rely on the likes of Stone and Corsi to conduct international espionage? — but an ad-hoc mix of comically inept crooks and grifters who were seeking to gain any advantage they could and have spent the years since lying to cover their tracks.
.. The Stone indictment advances my theory considerably. He is not alleged to have established any kind of ongoing, close working relationship with Julian Assange. Instead, he used intermediaries to squeeze out bits and pieces of information from WikiLeaks. He allegedly shared some of that information with the campaign, and then — when the special counsel’s investigation started — appears to have engaged in some of the most inept lying and witness intimidation I’ve ever seen. He denied the existence of documents that he should have known investigators would possess, and his threats to witnesses were almost cartoonish. In one paragraph, the indictment alleges he referred to a plan inspired by the movie Godfather II. In another paragraph, the indictment alleges that he threatened a witness’s dog.
..A combination of special-counsel indictments, guilty pleas, and reproduced emails has now shown that, despite their insistent, repeated denials of contact with Russians, Trump-campaign officials (including the campaign chair and the candidate’s son and son-in-law) were eager to meet with Russians to obtain damaging information on Hillary Clinton, were asking Roger Stone to connect with WikiLeaks — a reputed Russian asset — for information about its data dumps, and shared polling data with another reputed Russian asset. What’s more, we now know that Trump’s real-estate business continued to discuss a significant development deal in Moscow with Russians (including a Kremlin official) deep into the 2016 campaign.
what the trial reveals is something very damning, in the ethical if not legal sense: namely, what kind of people Trump surrounds himself with.
There was no secret about Manafort’s record as an influence-peddler on behalf of corrupt dictators and oligarchs when he went to work for Trump. On April 13, 2016, Bloomberg columnist Eli Lake wrote a prescient article headlined: “Trump Just Hired His Next Scandal.” Trump couldn’t have cared less. His whole career, he has surrounded himself with sleazy characters such as the Russian-born mob associate Felix Sater, who served prison time for assault and later pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges, as well as lawyer-cum-fixer Michael Cohen, who is reportedly under investigation for a variety of possible crimes, including tax fraud.
.. These are the kind of people Trump feels comfortable around, because this is the kind of person Trump is. He is, after all, the guy who paid $25 million to settle fraud charges against him from students of Trump University. The guy who arranged for payoffs to a Playboy playmate and a porn star with whom he had affairs. The guy who lies an average of 7.6 times a day.
.. And because everyone knows what kind of person Trump is, he attracts kindred souls. Manafort and Gates are only Exhibits A and B. There is also Exhibit C: Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.), the first member of Congress to endorse Trump, is facing federal charges of conspiracy, wire fraud and false statements as part of an alleged insider-trading scheme. Exhibit D is Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who has been accused by Forbes magazine, hardly an anti-Trump rag, of bilking business associates out of $120 million.
.. In fairness, not all of Trump’s associates are grifters. Some are simply wealthy dilettantes like Trump himself
.. Among the affluent and unqualified appointees Trump has set loose on the world are his son-in-law Jared Kushner and his former lawyer, Jason Greenblatt, who are somehow supposed to solve an Israeli-Palestinian dispute that has frustrated seasoned diplomats for decades. No surprise: Their vaunted peace plan remains MIA.
.. ProPublica has a mind-boggling scoop about another group of dilettantes — a Palm Beach doctor, an entertainment mogul, and a lawyer — whom Trump tasked as an informal board of directors to oversee the Department of Veterans Affairs. None has any experience in the U.S. military or government; their chief qualification was that they are all members of Trump’s golf club, Mar-a-Lago.
.. Beyond the swindlers and dilettantes, there is a third group of people who have no business working for Trump or any other president: the fanatics. The most prominent of the extremists was Stephen K. Bannon, the notorious “alt-right” leader who was chief executive of Trump’s campaign and a senior White House aide. He may be gone, but others remain. They include Peter Navarro, who may well be the only economist in the world who thinks trade wars are a good thing; Stephen Miller, the nativist who was behind plans to lock immigrant children in cages and bar Muslims from entering the United States, and who is now plotting to reduce legal immigration; and Fred Fleitz, the Islamophobic chief of staff of the National Security Council. They feel at home in the White House because, aside from being a grifter and a dilettante, Trump is also an extremist with a long history of racist, sexist, nativist, protectionist and isolationist utterances