One remarkable thing about the 2016 election is the way Trump’s business career was given such a superficial examination by the media as a whole. Again and again, some crazy story or unusual aspect of his financial life would be the topic of one or two investigative stories, but those stories wouldn’t get pick up by other outlets.
Making this more problematic, Trump isn’t someone who played close to the line a time or two, or once did a shady deal. He may well be the single most corrupt major business figure in the United States of America.
- He ran scams like Trump University to con struggling people out of their money.
- He lent his name to pyramid schemes.
- He bankrupted casinos and still somehow made millions while others were left holding the bag.
- He refused to pay vendors.
- He exploited foreign workers.
- He used illegal labor.
- He discriminated against African-American renters.
- He violated antitrust laws.
- He did business with the mob and with Eastern European kleptocrats.
- His properties became the go-to vehicle for Russian oligarchs and mobsters to launder their money.
So it was no accident that when he ran for president, the people who joined him in his quest were also a collection of grifters, liars, and crooks — people like Paul Manafort. For all his life, Trump has attracted liars, crooks, thugs. Honest, upright people with a deep respect for the law don’t go to work for Donald Trump.
Mr. Trump has spent his career in the company of developers and celebrities, and also of grifters, cons, sharks, goons and crooks. He cuts corners, he lies, he cheats, he brags about it, and for the most part, he’s gotten away with it, protected by threats of litigation, hush money and his own bravado. Those methods may be proving to have their limits when they are applied from the Oval Office. Though Republican leaders in Congress still keep a cowardly silence, Mr. Trump now has real reason to be afraid. A raid on a lawyer’s office doesn’t happen every day; it means that multiple government officials, and a federal judge, had reason to believe they’d find evidence of a crime there and that they didn’t trust the lawyer not to destroy that evidence.
On Monday, when he appeared with his national security team, Mr. Trump, whose motto could be, “The buck stops anywhere but here,” angrily blamed everyone he could think of for the “unfairness” of an investigation that has already consumed the first year of his presidency, yet is only now starting to heat up. He said Attorney General Jeff Sessions made “a very terrible mistake” by recusing himself from overseeing the investigation — the implication being that a more loyal attorney general would have obstructed justice and blocked the investigation. He complained about the “horrible things” that Hillary Clinton did “and all of the crimes that were committed.” He called the A-team of investigators from the office of the special counsel, Robert Mueller, “the most biased group of people.” As for Mr. Mueller himself, “we’ll see what happens,” Mr. Trump said. “Many people have said, ‘You should fire him.’”
Among the grotesqueries that faded into the background of Mr. Trump’s carnival of misgovernment during the past 24 hours was that Monday’s meeting was ostensibly called to discuss a matter of global significance: a reported chemical weapons attack on Syrian civilians. Mr. Trump instead made it about him, with his narcissistic and self-pitying claim that the investigation represented an attack on the country “in a true sense.”
No, Mr. Trump — a true attack on America is what happened on, say, Sept. 11, 2001. Remember that one? Thousands of people lost their lives. Your response was to point out that the fall of the twin towers meant your building was now the tallest in downtown Manhattan. Of course, that also wasn’t true.