Let us be clear about what Republican government is. It is government by people who line their own pockets with public funds. It is government by people who openly accept bribes. The Republican Party, which still claims to stand for the rule of law, has given us a government that is proudly, brazenly above the law.
If you doubt it, consider:
- EPA Director Scott Pruitt enjoys the support of the President and most Republicans in Congress, despite being the subject of more than a dozen investigations. He has spent millions of taxpayer dollars on a security detail that apparently runs errands for him, including picking up his dry cleaning. He spent $163,000 in first class air travel during his first year. Lobbyists arranged his travel to Morocco and Italy, and tried to arrange a trip to Israel that was cancelled. He stayed in a Washington condo for $50 a night, thanks to a lobbyist who had business before the EPA. He had his scheduler find him a Washington house on federal time. He spent $9600 decorating his office. He used his office to try to get his wife a Chick-fil-A franchise.
- Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has been the subject of four investigations, including his questionable travel paid for with funds meant to fight wildfires, and his attempt to spend $139,000 in taxpayer money on new doors to his office.
- Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson famously got caught spending $31,000 in taxpayer dollars on a dining room set.
- The Chinese government will contribute half a billion dollars to the Trump Organization, to help build an Indonesian theme park that features a Trump-branded golf course. This immediately followed Trump’s pledge to help save Chinese phone company ZTE from bankruptcy, despite the fact that ZTE is under penalty for not just selling US-made surveillance gear to North Korea and Iran, but repeatedly lying to US investigators about it.
- Speaking of Chinese payoffs directly to the Trump family, Ivanka Trump has enjoyed 13 new trademark approvals by the Chinese government in the space of just three months.
- President Trump proposes to pardon former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. He does not assert that Blagojevich is innocent of trying to sell a Senate seat, rather, he says that Blagojevich’s corruption simply wasn’t that big a deal. To quote him directly, “Plenty of other politicians have said a lot worse.” That’s a very low moral standard indeed.
- The President asserts “the absolute right to PARDON myself.” He further claims he cannot obstruct justice, because he is personally in charge of all Justice Department investigations. (His legal claim is wrong, and we know that because of an Office of Legal Counsel opinion on the subject. Richard Nixon resigned because he found out he couldn’t pardon himself.) If you wondered when Trump would claim that he is simply above the law, you can quit wondering. We’ve arrived.