Crisis, Chaos and Corruption: Here Are Recent Examples of Each in the Trump Era
Sen. Cory Booker has been in the news a lot recently, questioning Judge Brett Kavanaugh aggressively on racial profiling during U.S. Senate hearings on his nomination for the U.S. Supreme Court. And the centrist New Jersey Democrat, during his frequent cable news appearances, has not only had much to say about Kavanaugh’s nomination by President Donald Trump, but also, the Trump Administration in general.
Appearing on MSNBC, Booker characterized the Trump era as one of “the 3 C’s: crisis, chaos and corruption”—and it was, to be sure, an accurate assessment. For President Donald Trump and his administration, there has been no shortage of the 3 C’s in recent weeks. And with the 2018 midterms only two months away, this is the last thing the Republican Party needs.
Here are recent examples of crisis, chaos and corruption in the Trump era.
Labor Day Weekend is when political campaigns enter the home stretch in the United States. Campaigns check their poll numbers, frantically trying to assess their strengths and weakness as Election Day draws closer—and if the 2018 midterms will be a referendum on Trump’s presidency, a Washington Post/ABC News poll released just before Labor Day Weekend was not the type of news Republicans wanted to hear. According to the poll, only 36% of Americans approve of Trump’s performance as president; 60% disapprove, and 53% disapprove strongly. And that disapproval includes an appetite for impeachment: the poll found that 57% of American women favor impeaching the president, although “only” 49% favor impeachment when both men and women are factored in.
For Republicans, the bad news continued after Labor Day Weekend with more excerpts from veteran political journalist/author Bob Woodward’s soon-to-be-release book “Fear: Trump in the White House” surfacing. Woodward, now 75, has written extensively about U.S. presidents ranging from Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama to Richard Nixon (who was the subject of his 1974 book “All the President’s Men”). Known for being incredibly thorough and meticulous, Woodward spoke to a long list of Trump administration officials and conducted hundreds of hours of interviews for “Fear”—which paints the administration as being in a state of nonstop turmoil and crisis. In the book, Trump is quoted as describing Attorney General Jeff Sessions as a “dumb southerner” and “mentally retarded.”
Trump, true to form, went to Twitter on September 4 to lambast Woodward’s book, insisting that it had been “refuted and discredited” and asserting that Woodward might be a “Dem operative.” And the following day, Trump’s mood grew even angrier when the New York Times published an anonymous op-ed written by a frustrated senior official in his administration. The op-ed, like excerpts from Woodward’s book, painted a highly negative picture of the state of Trump’s administration; the official’s long list of complaints included everything from foreign policy to trade policy—and Trump made himself look ridiculous when he returned to Twitter, called the op-ed treasonous and demanded that the New York Times reveal the person’s identity (which would be a major violation of journalistic ethics since the Times promised anonymity).
In the past, the Republican Party had a reputation for being a northeastern party and a West Coast party. Republicans, believe it or not, dominated the city government in Philadelphia (now a Democratic stronghold) before the 1950s—and California, from Santa Barbara to San Diego to Bakersfield, was once a very Republican state. But the GOP, starting with Nixon’s “southern strategy” in the late 1960s, refashioned itself as a party of the Deep South. So when it was reported that according to Woodward’s “Fear: Trump in the White House,” Queens native Trump mocked Jeff Sessions’ southern accent and called him a “dumb southerner” and “mentally retarded,” that was hardly the type of publicity Republicans needed in 2018—when they are going to need a heavy voter turnout in the southern states on November 6.
The bad blood between Trump and Sessions has been obvious, and Trump has no one but himself to blame. Trump resents Sessions deeply for recusing himself from the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and related matters—a probe that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has been overseeing, with the help of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. And this month, Trump has also lambasted Sessions for the U.S. Justice Department’s decision to bring criminal charges against two Republicans: former California Rep. Duncan Hunter for using more than $250,000 in campaign funds for personal expenses and New York Rep. Chris Collins for insider trading.
Trump has said that Sessions will remain in his administration through the November midterms, but declined to say what will happen after that.
Hands down, Trump has been the U.S.’ most scandal-ridden president since Nixon—and the scandals never end. A long list of Trump associates have either pled guilty to criminal charges or been convicted of them, including Paul Manafort (Trump’s former campaign manager), Michael Cohen (Trump’s former personal attorney), Rick Gates (a Trump campaign aid and Manafort’s former business partner), Michael Flynn (the administration’s former national security advisor) and George Papadopoulos (a foreign policy advisor).
Jury selection is now underway in Manafort’s second trial, with Manafort facing charges that include obstruction of justice and money laundering—and that is on top of the eight charges he was convicted of in his first trial, including bank fraud and tax evasion. August 21 was not only the day Manafort was convicted; it was also the day Cohen pled guilty to eight charges, which included tax evasion and campaign finance violations.
Papadopoulos and Flynn both pled guilty to lying to the FBI. And on top of Gates, Flynn, Cohen and Papadopoulos all agreeing to cooperate with federal prosecutors, several other Trump allies have flipped as well—including David Pecker and Dylan Howard at American Media (which publishes the sleazy National Enquirer) and Allen Weisselberg (chief financial officer for the Trump Organization).
Yet as bad all of that is, veteran journalist Dan Rather—who reported on Watergate extensively back in the 1970s—has predicted that the worst is yet to come for Trump, telling CNN’s Don Lemon that Mueller probably knows more than he’s telling and that as Mueller’s investigation moves along, it will make the events of August 21 “pale by comparison.”
After the anonymous New York Times op-ed by a Trump Administration senior official was published, Rather—in a subsequent appearance on Lemon’s show—pulled no punches, asserting, “Look, we’re in chaos, deep and dark. We have to face it. This is a dangerous time. It’s getting darker.”