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
The president’s prejudices predate his relationship with the former Breitbart News chief.
.. It would be nice to believe that Steve Bannon’s departure from the White House will end, or least diminish, Donald Trump’s flirtations with bigotry. Alas, that’s almost certainly not the case.
As Trump himself likes to note, Bannon joined his campaign late, in August 2016. By that time, Trump had
- already called Mexican immigrants “rapists,”
- falsely accused American Muslims in New Jersey of celebrating the 9/11 attacks,
- said “Islam hates us,” and
- declared that Judge Gonzalo Curiel could not fairly judge the case against Trump University because was Mexican American.
Bannon’s hiring was not a cause of the Trump campaign’s dalliance with Islamophobia, nativism, and white nationalism. It was a result.
In 1989, when four African American and one Hispanic teenagers (the “Central Park Five”) were arrested for rape, Trump took out newspaper ads declaring that the accused should be executed and “forced to suffer.” When DNA evidence exonerated the young men in 2012, Trump denounced New York City’s decision to compensate them, saying “I think people are tired of politically correct.”
.. Steve Bannon was not advising Donald Trump when Trump demanded to see Barack Obama’s college transcripts and launched a crusade to prove that he was not an American citizen.
.. Bannon was not advising Trump in 2013, when the real estate tycoon tweeted that, “I’m much smarter than Jonathan Leibowitz—I mean Jon Stewart” or told Republican Jews that, “You’re not going to support me because I don’t want your money.”
.. his Thursday tweet suggesting the United States should look to a false story of U.S. Army General John Pershing’s supposed war crimes in the Philippines as the right model for how to treat suspected Muslim terrorists, all occurred while he was reportedly weighing Bannon’s firing.
.. reporting suggests that the thing that really bothered Trump about Bannon was his penchant for stealing the spotlight. Not his religious and racial views.
“[E]verything we have shown you — it’s less than one-tenth of one-one-thousandth million percent of the divisive, hateful rhetoric that is no the left in America,” Hannity said. “We can spend an entire week just playing tapes, just showing example after example. The problem we’re now facing is no one on the left has the courage, or very few, or the fortitude to speak out and stop the hatred. And that’s because Democrats use this kind of vile rhetoric every single election.”
.. “Every election, Republicans are what — they are racist, they’re sexist, they’re misogynistic,” he continued. “Let’s see, they want dirty air and water. They want to throw granny off the cliff. And that’s just part of their political playbook — Islamophobic, xenophobic, homophobic — it never ends. The left objectifies Republicans, especially conservatives into something we are not. And they know the truth, but yet they contribute to this atmosphere where Republicans, we’re not even human. If you are conservative like me, God-awful. How do you even speak on television or radio? Now tonight, I know there is a Kumbaya moment for the country. I’m not buying it.
Motion M103 was tabled by Iqra Khalid, a Muslim member of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party. It states the government must “condemn Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination
.. Ms. Khalid, who was born in Pakistan and moved to the UK and then to Canada, said the definition of Islamophobia was: “The irrational hate of Muslims that leads to discrimination.”
.. Trudeau has also appeared at many mosques, including one where the women weren’t allowed in the main prayer room with the men but were forced to pray in a separate area upstairs.