Friday, October 4, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He tried to get on the right side of the fight against corruption.

Trump's strategy on the ever-widening scandal centered on Ukraine and the five other countries he's pressured to help him politically appears to be to "flood the zone" with as many different explanations, counter-charges, and distractions as possible. Today, he focused on portraying himself as an anti-corruption crusader, which he did in press appearances and tweets.

Inevitably, a White House reporter asked the obvious question:

Q:    Have you asked foreign leaders for any corruption investigations that don’t involve your political opponents?  That is, are there other cases where you’ve asked for corruption investigations?

Trump stumbled and was unable to offer an example of "corruption" he was interested in that wouldn't involve helping him win an election, saying only, "You know, we would have to look."

That said, Trump does have a unique perspective on foreign corruption—from the supply side of it. For example, during the negotiations over the Trump Tower Moscow high-rise project—which he lied about being underway during the 2016 campaign—he planned to get local officials' approval by offering Russian president Vladimir Putin a bribe in the form of a free $50 million penthouse apartment.

Why should I care about this?

  • If trading American influence, money, or military power for help winning an election isn't corrupt, nothing is.
  • Accusing other people of things you have done yourself is called projection, and it's not a sign of good mental health.
  • Presidents who actually care about fighting corruption usually do something about it in their first three years in office.