We all know the Trump family has long, deep Mafia connections, going back to the days of Trump’s father, Fred. Trump’s long-time lawyer, Roy Cohn, was the consigliere for two of the five NY-NJ crime families. Trump is wired into the Mob in every way possible. And now he’s running his administration just like the Mob.
The mafia uses a practice known as “kicking up” or “paying tribute” to the boss. Essentially, all members of a mafia family must make sure that some of their earnings end up in the boss’ pocket. From the member’s point of view, “kicking up” is a way to show respect, curry favor, and reinforce the hierarchical power structure. From the boss’s point of view, it’s a way to get rich.
The “kicking up” model works well for the mafia, and now a political version of it is catching on within the Trump administration.
Vice President Mike Pence has decided to stay at Trump’s golf resort in Doonbeg, Ireland, during an official visit to Dublin (over a one-hour flight away, so not particularly close or convenient). On Tuesday, Pence’s chief of staff remarked that the decision was made on Trump’s suggestion. The Vice President’s office later stated, “at no time did the President direct our office to stay at his Doonbeg resort.”
Pence will personally pay all expenses for family traveling with him, and the United States government will use taxpayer money to pick up the costs for Pence and his security detail. No matter how you cut it, Pence’s decision to stay at Trump’s hotel will put money in Trump’s pocket.
Not to be outdone in the ass-kissing category, Attorney General William Barr will spend more than $30,000 of personal money to throw a private holiday party at the Trump International Hotel in Washington DC. Barr’s defenders argue that he first tried to book two other DC hotels. Of course, there are dozens of luxury hotels in DC that Barr could have chosen instead of one owned by Trump’s company.
Apologists can nibble at the margins, but there is no escaping that the choices by Pence and Barr will put thousands of dollars in Trump’s pocket as well as currying more favor with the Godfather.