Our hearts go out to the people of the Gulf Coast. It seems almost a quibble at this time to point out that their president and his team are a disgrace. But it’s not a quibble. Their disgracefulness relates directly to suffering and dangers in the Gulf (see especially Scott Pruitt, 2 below), and their odiousness makes everything about this crisis more harsh. Also, they remain busy harming our country in multiple other ways.
Since mid-2017, Republic Report’s “Trump Terrible 10” has counted down the week’s 10 most disgraceful figures in the Trump administration. Although we always say we want to get out of this feature, every week they pull me back in. (Actually sometimes more than every week; christ, we last posted the countdown three days ago.)
Republic Report, which focuses on how money corrupts democracy, has met its abusive dream mate with the kleptocratic administration of President Donald J. Trump. Trump and his lieutenants personify how money and greed, mixed with disrespect for constitutional values, know-nothing ignorance, serious bigotry, and an endless capacity for lying, can really, really corrupt democracy.
Permanent spoiler alert: We can’t imagine anyone other than Donald J. Trump ever occupying the top spot in the rankings. But we won’t get tired of him winning. That I can tell you. That I can tell you.
10. Jeff Sessions, Attorney General; Dan Coats, Director of National Intelligence; Tom Price, Secretary of Health and Human Services; Mick Mulvaney, Director of the Office of Management and Budget; and Mike Pompeo, CIA Director. Last week’s ranking ―
As Members of Congress, all voted against Hurricane Sandy relief funding.
9. Kellyanne Conway, Counselor to the President. Last week’s ranking ―
In her latest marathon discussion with CNN’s Chris Cuomo, Conway called the Trump-Cohnuchin tax cut for the wealthy “a middle class tax cut” because it helps workers by “making our job creators more competitive around the world.”
8. Rick Perry, Secretary of Energy. Last week’s ranking ―
Perry hired, as head of the Office of Indian Energy, and took way too long to get rid of, the disgraceful William Bradford (resigned today but still on the Department website), whose racist tweets included one calling Barack Obama “a Kenyan creampuff” who “was given his mission in Tehran long ago,” and another saying that U.S. internment of Japanese-Americans in World War II was “necessary.” As to yet another online comment calling Obama “the son of a fourth-rate p&*n actress,” Bradford offered a Weineresque defense: he was hacked.
6 & 7. Steven Mnuchin, Secretary of the Treasury, and Gary Cohn, Director of the National Economic Council. Last week’s ranking: 7 (Cohn)
The same two semitic guys who stood behind Trump when he said folks who participated in a Nazi/Klan hate march were “very fine people” are also ex-Goldman Sachs bankers whose Cohnuchin tax “reform” package is simply, as our new best friend Ann Coulter will tell you, a present for Wall Street.
Mnuchin edges Cohn this week because of his refusal to say he would proceed with a plan set in motion under Obama to put Harriet Tubman and other women on U.S. paper money. Trump indicated during the campaign that he “would love” to leave his new best friend Andrew Jackson on the $20 and maybe relegate Tubman to the sad $2 bill. Maybe Trump hasn’t yet noticed how Tubman is such a great example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is getting recognized more and more.
5. Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Education. Last week’s ranking: 6
DeVos seems determined to return to a recent era when for-profit colleges got tens of billions from taxpayers without accountability, no matter how badly some companies in the industry abused students and ripped off taxpayers. This week, her department offered for-profit colleges an extra seat at the table for upcoming negotiations on how to dismantle Obama administration rules to protect students against predatory college abuses ― one for big for-profit schools, one for small for-profit schools. Don’t let DeVos know she still has time to add a seat for “just right” for-profit schools.
DeVos also hired for the critical job of the head of the Department’s enforcement unit ― in charge of investigating illegal conduct by schools ― Julian Schmoke, a college administrator who apparently has no investigative experience but previously worked at for-profit DeVry University, which has been under investigation by multiple law enforcement agencies and last year paid $100 million dollars to settle a Federal Trade Commission lawsuit charging that it deceived students. He joins DeVos’s top advisor on for-profit college issues, Robert Eitel, who until recently worked at Bridgepoint Education, another predatory for-profit college company facing multiple law enforcement probes.
And DeVos announced a “stronger” ― actually weaker ― approach to addressing school misconduct, which amounts to secretly asking offending schools to straighten up, rather than alerting the public to the abuses.
Because DeVos seems to be signaling that for-profit colleges can go back to the same kind of predatory practices that characterized the notorious sham “university” once run by DeVos’s boss Donald Trump, because she is basically giving for-profit colleges everything they want, the industry has even tamped down its enormous lobbying budget.
3 & 4. Ivanka Trump, Assistant to the President, and Jared Kushner, Senior Advisor to the President. Last week’s ranking: 2 & 3
This week two HUGE Suburbans were double parked obnoxiously wide on fancy 14th Street in DC, with three large agents standing by. Before I could wonder who was being protected, Ivanka raced out of a vehicle and into Barcelona Wine Bar. I hope she gave the waitress a HUGE tip, because the next day Ivanka, who claimed that her central goal working for her dad was to help working women, issued a statement endorsing the administration’s decision to dump an Obama administration plan to collect wage data in an effort to close the gender pay gap. “The proposed policy would not yield the intended results,” policy expert Ivanka declared.
It also was revealed this week that not only did Her Highness Ivanka sit in dad’s chair during the G20 meeting, but also she sat in Vladimir Putin’s chair in the Kremlin when she visited as part of the Trump Organization’s record of having nothing to do with Russia. Ms. Trump told the New York Times “it is possible she sat in Mr. Putin’s chair during that tour but she did not recall it.” (So she sat in at least two chairs; yes, the second Goldilocks reference this week - see 5 above.)
2. Scott Pruitt, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator. Last week’s ranking: 5
The deadly wreck of Harvey is what climate change looks like. Yet Scott Pruitt, bound to his polluting patrons, has done nothing but cancel government efforts to fight climate change. Also, Pruitt dumped the Obama EPA rule to make our chemical plants safer. General Russel Honore, General Randy Manner, and I warned Pruitt in April not to do that: “An accident, natural disaster, or deliberate attack could trigger an explosion or chemical release that could kill thousands of people.” Now, a Houston chemical plant, in the wake of a natural disaster, has exploded and burned. Pruitt is literally destroying our planet.
1. Donald J. Trump, President of the United States. Last week’s ranking: duh
Trump is ultimately responsible for all the disgraceful environmental policies carried out by Pruitt (2, above) and the rest of the administration ― policies that threaten more Harveys, more toxic dangers, more destruction, and more suffering. And he just doesn’t care.
But Trump has already added his own brand of personal disgracefulness to the Harvey crisis, crowing to the 1000 people in Houston who trudged over to hear him amid their struggles, “what a crowd, what a turnout,” wearing a $40 Trump campaign merchandise hat on the trip, and claiming upon his return that he witnessed “first hand the horror & devastation,” when in fact (okay, mere flotsam in a larger sea of disgracefulness) he witnessed it second-hand.
President Trump sure seems to spend a lot of his time feeling sorry for himself and blaming others, such as criticizing Gary Cohn for his pathetically-mild-under-the-circumstances critique of Trump’s disgraceful handling of Charlottesville, and complaining about White House chief of staff John Kelly’s efforts to create a semblance of order in the West Wing.
Trump is again number one — the most disgraceful figure in the Trump administration. Trump is not merely a disgrace; he’s a total and complete disgrace.
This article also appears on Republic Report.