If Republic Report hadn’t launched this feature nine weeks ago, we’d have to start it now.
With North Korea threatening a nuclear strike on our cities, terrorist attacks around the world, acceleration of global climate change, and stagnating wages, crumbling infrastructure, and a drug addiction epidemic at home, how did the United States end up with a president who spends all his time blaming everyone else or visiting his properties?
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 freedoms, know-nothing ignorance, serious bigotry, and an endless capacity for lying, can really, really corrupt democracy.
Hence, “Trump Terrible 10,” counting down the week’s 10 most disgraceful figures in the Trump administration.
Permanent spoiler alert: We simply 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. Believe me.
10. Sebastian Gorka, Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs. Last week’s ranking: ―
We hereby apologize to America for failing to include this bizarre, unqualified-for-his-job, disgraceful man in our countdown in any previous week. Supposedly a Trump favorite for his tremendous media appearances, here’s what Gorka told BBC Radio 4 on Friday regarding Trump’s sudden, uncoordinated Twitter ban on transgender Americans serving in the military, “We don’t need to help try and force them into the hierarchical military environment where they are under the utmost pressure to kill or be killed. That is why the president is doing this out of the warmth of his consideration for this population ... They are not there to be socially engineered. We want people who are transgender to live happy lives.”
My own personal warmth compels me to ask Mr. Gorka to please leave the McMaster-Scaramucci-Kelly-Trump White House, a hierarchical military environment where you are under the utmost pressure to kill or be killed. Go live a happy life.
9. Rick Perry, Secretary of Energy. Last week’s ranking: ―
In a 2010 book he wrote, Rick Perry referred to the science underlying climate change as a “contrived, phony mess.” Seeking to get confirmed for his job as Secretary of Energy in January, Perry shifted, testifying, “I believe the climate is changing. I believe some of it is naturally occurring, but some of it is also caused by man-made activity.”
But now Perry has revealed himself to be a contrived, phony mess.
Asked on CNBC in June whether carbon dioxide emissions are the primary cause of climate change, Perry modulated: “No, most likely the primary control knob is the ocean waters and this environment that we live in.” Then, on Thursday, Perry’s press office tweeted out an op-ed by a Cato Institute climate skeptic entitled, “In the fight between Rick Perry and climate scientists — He’s winning.” The article charged that “major scientific institutions like the American Meteorological Society have become biased and politicized on the climate issue.”
That tweet from the Department of Energy hasn’t caught fire yet, but imagine the possibilities if other cabinet departments followed their lead: “In the fight between @BetsyDeVos and students ― She’s winning!” “In the fight between Jeff Sessions and civil rights ― He’s winning!” “In the fight between @realDonaldTrump and the rule of law ― He’s winning!” I don’t think we’d get tired of such winning.
8. Tom Price, Secretary of Health and Human Services. Last week’s ranking: ―
Dr. Price makes the countdown not only for pushing the GOP effort to recklessly trash our health care system, but also for standing there like a schmuck as Trump told the Boy Scouts, among many other dumb things (see 1 below), that if the GOP bill didn’t pass, “I’ll say, ’Tom, you’re fired.” Trump made a gun hand at the Boy Scouts when he said that.
7. Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Education. Last week’s ranking: 4
DeVos and Ivanka Trump (last week - 2) teamed up to read stories to the schoolchildren whose generation DeVos is working to deprive of quality public education. Meanwhile, as DeVos works to dismantle protections for students and taxpayers against predatory for-profit college companies, new developments and disclosures by Bridgepoint Education, until April the employer of DeVos’s senior counsel, Robert Eitel, remind us that her top higher education policymaker came from a predatory for-profit college company.
6. Scott Pruitt, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator. Last week’s ranking: 3
Trump’s incompetence, weakness, and Russiagate paralysis means major legislation or presidential initiatives aren’t happening. But Trump cabinet and agency appointees are advancing a Koch brothers/Wall Street agenda that is destroying health, safety, consumer, financial, worker, and environmental protections. Pruitt, who took a pile of fossil fuel money while Oklahoma’s attorney general, continues to lead the way.
Since becoming Trump’s EPA administrator, Pruitt has pursued an agenda of holding private meetings with fossil fuel industry executives and lobbyists, kicking respected scientists off agency review panels, concealing agency documents, hiding the truth regarding his emails, cancelling Obama-era EPA rules aimed at protecting Americans against toxic pollution, dangerous pesticides, catastrophic chemical explosions, and devastating global warming, and traveling an awful lot to Oklahoma at taxpayer expense.
The Washington Post (Amazon Fake News - see 1 below) reported Sunday that Pruitt’s EPA is even ready to remodel the small museum area that opened at headquarters at the end of the Obama administration: “On a tour of the exhibit Thursday, a career official said that ... climate displays are slated to be removed, adding that the agency may add a display of coal to the museum.” A display of coal, maybe just a lump? Also: Every former EPA administrator is currently featured in the museum except Anne Gorsuch, who resigned amid scandal during the Reagan administration. An EPA career public affairs official told the Post that Gorsuch would now be added. Neil Gorsuch’s mom.
5. Ryan Zinke, Secretary of the Interior. Last week’s ranking: 8
Zinke took a break from hiding away his Department’s climate change experts to accept a White House assignment to phone Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), who was refusing to support the Senate GOP health care bill, and remind her, according to the New York Times, “of issues affecting her state that are controlled by the Interior Department.” Murkowski acknowledged getting a call from Zinke, but wouldn’t give details. “However,” according to the Times, “people familiar with the call described her reaction to it as ‘furious.’” Zinke also called the other Alaska senator, Republican Dan Sullivan, who said Zinke offered a “troubling message.” Sullivan added, “I’m not going to go into the details, but I fear that the strong economic growth, pro-energy, pro-mining, pro-jobs and personnel from Alaska who are part of those policies are going to stop. ... I tried to push back on behalf of all Alaskans. … We’re facing some difficult times and there’s a lot of enthusiasm for the policies that Secretary Zinke and the president have been talking about with regard to our economy. But the message was pretty clear.”
Great work for the team, Ryan. Did you threaten U.S. senators, telling them that you might stop advancing Interior policies that they wanted, if they didn’t vote for Obamacare repeal? If so, your effort failed spectacularly.
4. Jeff Sessions, Attorney General. Last week’s ranking: 9
We all want to love ol’ Jeff Sessions now, due to Trump’s passive-aggressive campaign to pressure him to resign. But we don’t really like Sessions’ groveling approach to keeping his job, calling Trump “a strong leader,” just two days after Trump called Sessions’ conduct “VERY weak.” And we certainly don’t like Sessions’s policy initiatives, such as his disgraceful plans to resume the failed war on drugs, including even medical marijuana, to accelerate the use of corrupt private prisons, and to abandon civil rights.
Last week Sessions’ Justice Department filed a friend-of-the-court brief with a federal appeals court, which had not asked for the government’s opinion, arguing that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not prohibit employers from discriminating against workers based on sexual orientation. In other words, as far as federal law is concerned, your boss can fire you simply because you’re gay. Two years ago, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled that Title VII did bar such discrimination.
Remember when President Trump waived that rainbow flag? That was awesome. But apparently Jeff Sessions doesn’t care, and neither (see 1 below) does President Trump.
3. Jared Kushner, Senior Advisor to the President. Last week’s ranking: 2
Prior to appearing on Capitol Hill Monday to answer investigators’ questions in secret, Kushner released an 11-page statement recounting his dealings with the Russians. Afterwards, he stood outside the West Wing in front of a tiny podium and gave a statement. He took no questions from the media. The statement was obviously prepared with care by lawyers. It dismisses as minimal and irrelevant the multiple, troubling Russian contacts that Kushner serially failed to disclose; blames the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Russians on poor young Donald Trump Jr.; avoids obvious questions about what the Russians may have been trying to gain through the meeting; uses hedged language (“I have not relied on Russian funds to finance my business activities in the private sector” - emphasis mine to emphasize he did not rule out that he received Russian funds); and never mentions the report that Justice Department and congressional investigators “are examining whether the Trump campaign’s digital operation – overseen by Jared Kushner – helped guide Russia’s sophisticated voter targeting and fake news attacks on Hillary Clinton in 2016.”
Kushner’s statements thus raise far more questions than they answered.
2. Anthony Scaramucci, White House Director of Communications. Last week’s ranking: 5
I worked at the White House. We were always cognizant that we represented the United States, that we should act with dignity, treat the institution with respect.
What the fuck is wrong with this guy?
Sent by Trump on a search and destroy mission, the sycophantic Mooch got his man, assisting in the final humiliation and dumping of White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus. When the New Yorker published his attack on Preibus as “a fucking paranoid schizophrenic, a paranoiac” and his assessment of Stephen Bannon as a remarkable sexual athlete, especially for his shape, the lesson that Mooch drew, on Twitter, was that he “made a mistake in trusting in a reporter.”
But he’d apparently failed to inform the reporter that he wanted his remarks off the record, and more to the point, why, on your first day on the job, are you making such extravagant, profane, insulting comments to a reporter, even off the record, about the White House Chief of Staff and the White House Chief Strategist? Why did you tweet and then delete an attack on the same chief of staff in connection with a leak of your financial disclosure form, which turned out not to be a leak at all? Why do you need so badly to brag about your accomplishments, including mentioning twice in your bizarre interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo that you built two successful companies, even mentioning the price you sold them for? And after all this bluster and swagger and hostile impugning of colleagues, how can you respond to news reporting that your wife has just filed for divorce by tweeting, “Soon we will learn who in the media has class and who doesn’t.”
Now that General John Kelly is firmly in charge at the White House, no doubt the Mooch is ready to put his head down and be a reliable cog in the wheel, devising and implementing White House communications strategies at Kelly’s direction. He won’t be freelancing for the president. Even though they’ve both built incredibly successful businesses.
Honorable mention here to Scaramucci’s new underling Sarah Huckabee Sanders, whom he casually promoted from the press room podium to take the job of Sean Spicer, who quit when Trump hired Scaramucci. New press secretary Sanders disgracefully described Scaramucci’s disgraceful rampage against senior White House officials as “healthy,” as in: “They’re not always going to agree. There are going to be a lot of different ideas. Unlike previous administrations, this isn’t groupthink. We all have a chance to come and voice those ideas, voice those perspectives and have a lot of healthy competition, and with that competition, you usually get the best results. The president likes that kind of competition and encourages it.”
Yep, he does.
UPDATE 07-31-17 1:36 pm: "President Trump has decided to remove Anthony Scaramucci from his position as communications director, three people close to the decision said Monday."
1. Donald J. Trump, President of the United States. Last week’s ranking: duh
“With the exception of the late, great Abraham Lincoln, I can be more presidential than any president that’s ever held this office.”
― Donald J. Trump, July 25, 2016, Youngstown, Ohio, rally, at which he also said a removed protestor was “going back home to mommy”
If he can be presidential, he’s doing it in front of the mirror. We’re not seeing it.
As you know, President Trump addressed the Boy Scouts of America Jamboree in West Virginia. His remarks included partisan political attacks, self-pity, sexual innuendo, the threat to fire Tom Price, cursing, and this monument to his ever-present need to avenge a handful of dinner jokes by his predecessor: “By the way, just a question, did President Obama ever come to a Jamboree? ... The answer is no.” The Boy Scouts were compelled to apologize to scouts and parents “who were offended by the political rhetoric that was inserted into the jamboree.”
President Trump addressed law enforcement officers in Brentwood, New York, on Long Island. After calling for an increase in immigration enforcement against gang members, Trump told the assembled offices, “Please don’t be too nice.” He explained that he meant that police should slam the heads of arrestees into the sides of police vehicles: “Like when you guys put somebody in the car, and you’re protecting their head, you know, the way you put your hand over. I said, ‘You can take the hand away, OK?’” His endorsement of police violence was promptly denounced by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the Police Foundation, and Long Island’s Suffolk County Police Department, which said on Twitter, “As a department, we do not and will not tolerate roughing up of prisoners... The SCPD has strict rules & procedures relating to the handling of prisoners. Violations of those rules are treated extremely seriously.” Except by President Trump.
And then there was the President’s Wednesday morning tweet series that began, ominously, “After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow ...” Following that tweet, there was a nine-minute silence that reportedly raised fears in the Pentagon about an impending order to war, and perhaps scrambled Chinese, Russian, Iranian, and North Korean jets. But never fear. All Trump was announcing was the reversal of a long-fought Defense Department policy to allow transgender Americans to service openly in the armed forces. All he did was state that he wouldn’t allow “Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military.” All he did was put at risk the livelihoods and safety of thousands of people who serve honorably and effectively defending our nation. That’s all.
In doing so, Trump blindsided Secretary of Defense James Mattis, who earlier this month announced a six-month delay of the policy to give the Defense Department more time to study the issue, insisting that the delay in “no way presupposes the outcome of review.” Trump went much further than even the rabid right-winger in the House of Representatives who was demanding, as part of the security funding bill that included money for Trump’s fake wall, that the military not fund medical treatment for gender transition. Trump acted so ineptly that his announcement was quickly countermanded by Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who wrote to the military service chiefs that the change would not be implemented until the White House sent the Pentagon a new directive, and Secretary Mattis issued new rules. “In the meantime,” General Dunford wrote, “we will continue to treat all of our personnel with respect.” Meaning, until the Pentagon received formal orders from Trump to NOT treat personnel with respect.
Trump also continued his effort to obstruct the Russiagate investigation, an effort now focused on using whiny tweets to try to get Jeff Sessions to resign, so he can pick a new attorney general who will oversee, and maybe fire, Bob Mueller. Over the past week Trump pondered on Twitter why “our beleaguered A.G.” is not investigating “Crooked Hillarys crimes & Russia relations.” Following up, he wrote, “Attorney General Jeff Sessions has taken a VERY weak position on Hillary Clinton crimes (where are E-mails & DNC server) & Intel leakers!” Trump, of course, is also peeved that Sessions recused himself from the Russiagate investigation ― one of the few appropriate decisions that Sessions has made in office but, according to Trump, “very unfair to the president.”
When a reporter asked last Wednesday about speculation that President Trump might fire Sessions and replace him via a recess appointment, the White House released a remarkable presidential statement: “More fake news from the Amazon Washington Post.” Muy presidential.
And Trump unleashed Scaramucci to go after White House leakers, while presumably Trump himself is pushing the leaks that he is considering firing Mueller.
For all those voters out there who say they know Trump says silly things, but they wanted him so he could bring his dealmaking skills to fix Washington and get results, I mean, Christ. Did you see him in action on the health care bill with the lame threats against Senators Murkowski and Heller and lordy knows who else? Did you see his tweet last Tuesday, “So great that John McCain is coming back to vote. Brave - American hero! Thank you John.” The Art of the Deal. Tremendous.
So let me Scaramooch you for just a New York minute: Mr. Trump, you won an unbelievable victory. By an historic margin. You had the biggest crowd, the biggest ratings, the biggest whatever. The best words, the best brain. You did an amazing job as president. An amazing, amazing job. So presidential! I love you.
Now go judge a beauty pageant. Or sell time-shares. Or steal from your charity. Resign and stop disgracing our nation.
Trump is again number one — the most disgraceful figure in the Trump administration — in the Trump Terrible 10. Trump is not merely a disgrace; he’s a total and complete disgrace.
This article also appears on Republic Report.