Of all the ridiculous lies spread during the 2016 presidential campaign, probably the most ridiculous is the idea that Donald Trump is a ‘political outsider’.
In the late 1980s when under investigation, mortgage broker Frank LaMagra claimed that Donald Trump was a participant in mob money laundering and offered to wear a wire to expose him. The federal agent in charge of the case, Tony Lombardi, discussed the case with his boss – Rudy Giulani – before going to talk with Trump, who became the co-chair of Giuliani’s 1989 mayoral fundraiser. LaMagra’s offer was never taken up. In 2009 Donald Trump gave $170,000 to the Republican Governors’ Association; in 2010 Chris Christie agreed to write off a $30 million Trump Casino tax bill for $5 million; in 2011 Trump donated another $450,000 to the group. Trump has repeatedly contributed to groups working for the re-election of attorneys general who were considering investigating his businesses, including Pam Bondi in 2014, and Kamala Harris between 2011 and 2013.
His career has been built on his (or his father’s) political connections. A plan in the 1970s to develop the Commodore Hotel involved giving a job to Louise Sunshine, chief fundraiser for New York governor Hugh Carey (a friend of Fred Trump). Richard Ravitch, then head of New York’s Urban Development Corporation, recalls Trump threatening to have him fired if the board voted against his proposals.
He’s been brazenly honest about influencing the actions of politicians – in July 2015 he told the WSJ that “when you give, they do whatever the hell you want them to do”. He repeated this sentiment at the podium in January 2016, saying that “when I want something I get it. When I call, they kiss my ass.”
Of course, there’s no proof that any of these were quid pro quos. But Trump is clearly a deeply connected political insider. During the election campaign, questions were rightly asked about Hillary Clinton’s close links with Wall Street donors, and about those who donated to the Clinton Foundation. Even though there was no solid proof of wrongdoing, it’s possible that one or more of her donors could use the access their money had given them to act as a demon on her shoulder, whispering ideas that benefited themselves at the cost of the people. Trump’s history shows that he is one of those demons.
Donald Trump cannot and will not ‘drain the swamp’ any more than a fish would drain the pond. The swamp is Trump’s natural habitat. It is integral to his successes, and probably the only place he can survive.
Part one of this series can be read at the link.