Monday, November 4, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He plugged a book.

The fears that Trump projected yesterday came true today, with the release of the first two transcripts from Congressional depositions of witnesses in the impeachment inquiry. This evening, news broke that Lev Parnas—who is simultaneously on Trump's legal team and that of Russian mobster Dmitri Firtash, who helped prop up the former pro-Russian puppet government of Ukraine—had decided to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry. And Trump lost yet another legal battle to keep his tax returns secret from criminal investigators in New York. (The federal Second Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Trump's claim that, because he is president, no law enforcement agency anywhere can even begin investigating crimes he may be associated with.)

But amidst all the chaos, Trump found time to plug his son Don Jr.'s new book.

Trump's tweet probably isn't technically illegal: conflict of interest laws don't apply to presidents, because impeachment is the remedy for presidents who behave inappropriately in office. (Any other federal employee would have been fired, at the very least, for using their office to promote a family member's book.) 

Trump has attacked former president Barack Obama and his wife Michelle Obama for writing books after he left office, insinuating that there was some unspecified ethical problem with this. At the time, he was attempting to distract from his decision to award an eight-figure contract to himself to host the G7 at his failing Miami-area golf resort

Even with his father's endorsement, Trump Jr. will have stiff competition from other political books. The #1 and #2 books on Amazon this week are both about Trump. #1 is Ronan Farrow's Catch and Kill, about the ways that wealthy sexual predators are protected by powerful allies. #2 is A Warning, by the anonymous Trump administration official who wrote a New York Times op-ed promising the American people that Trump's own staff were protecting the country from his worst impulses.

Who cares?

  • It's always wrong to use your public office for private gain, even if you can get away with it.
  • Accusing other people of doing what you are doing is either hypocrisy or psychological projection, neither of which are good things.