Wednesday, May 27, 2020

What did Donald Trump do today?

He made absolutely sure that a wealthy donor and conspiracy theorist got some kind of diplomatic job.

In 2018, Trump nominated Lee Rizzuto as the U.S. Ambassador to Barbados and several other small Caribbean nations. Like Trump, Rizzuto was the heir to his father's more successful business empire. Immediately after his nomination was announced, Rizzuto signed up as an "underwriter" for a major fundraiser held at Trump's Mar-a-Lago property. (Trump directly profits from political events held there.)

Rizzuto's nomination was defeated by the Republican-controlled Senate because of a variety of malicious and unhinged posts he had made on social media. He claimed that Republican Sen. Ted Cruz's wife was plotting to overthrow the United States government. He said that a Jewish donor to progressive causes, a child during World War Two, had "worked for Hitler to kill his own people." He called prominent Muslims in American politics terrorists, and spread a rumor that Republican Gov. Scott Walker had been expelled from college for cheating. 

None of these claims are true, but most or all of Rizzuto's targets were Trump's political opponents during or after the 2016 campaign. Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) dismissed Rizzuto as an embarrassing promoter of "tinfoil hat" stuff. 

Rizzuto has no diplomatic experience or connection to the Caribbean nations to which he was nominated as ambassador.

Today, Trump appointed Rizzuto to a top-level diplomatic post in Bermuda that doesn't require Senate confirmation.

Why should I care about this?

  • There's basically no non-corrupt reason to do this kind of thing.