Tuesday, February 27, 2018

What did Donald Trump do today?

He named a campaign manager for his 2020 re-election campaign.

Trump has officially been a candidate for the 2020 presidential election since early afternoon on the day he was inaugurated in January 2017. But there had been no formal campaign manager until today, when the campaign announced that Brad Parscale had been appointed to the post. 

In the 2016 campaign, Parscale was Trump's "digital strategist." He headed up the Trump campaign's social media strategy, which in turn has made him a subject of the ongoing investigation into Russian sabotage of the election. In particular, independent counsel Robert Mueller's team is investigating whether the Trump campaign's data operation was in any way connected to the activities of the disinformation army deployed against the United States by the Putin regime.

Parscale has other Trumpian qualities than a curiously close relationship with Russia. For example, he has embraced nepotism: he immediately appointed Lara Trump (the wife of Donald Trump's middle son Eric) and John Pence (nephew of Vice-President Mike Pence) as "senior advisors," the same title that Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump hold in the White House. He also shares his boss's occasional carelessness on social media: today he "liked" a reply to a Trump tweet that called Trump an "idiot."

But Parscale's most Trump-like quality is his murky financial dealings and disreputable business ties. Last August, for reasons that are not immediately clear, Parscale sold his private marketing company to a penny-stock firm known as CloudCommerce, Inc., and took a seat on its board. That firm has not turned a profit in years, and its former CEO--who still has influence over the business--was convicted of securities fraud.

All this having been said, Parscale has a low bar to clear as campaign manager: his predecessor, Paul Manafort, is under indictment for conspiracy against the United States and dozens of related fraud and financial charges.

Why is this a problem?

  • It says something about a president if the best person he can get to run his re-election campaign is under investigation in the same scandal threatening the president in the first place.