Nothing is surprising any more. The tawdry and the sleaze exhibited by things Trump (and his cohorts) just rolls out like gummy bears from the candy factory, and does not stop. Here is just a sample of this week's fun and games.
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This is shaping up to be another red-letter week for Draining the Swamp.
On Monday, Paul Manafort, President Trump's former campaign chairman, splashed back into the news when members of the special counsel Robert Mueller's team accused him in court papers ofwitness tampering. Swamp-watchers will recall that Mr. Manafort is facing a smorgasbord of charges related to tax, lobbying and money-laundering violations. Prosecutors now say that he has been using his free time while awaiting trial to try to contact some former European business associates in order to coach them into lying about his work on behalf of pro-Russia political interests in Ukraine. Mr. Manafort's secret lobbying scheme is alleged to have been impressively elaborate — as, also, efforts to cover it up. But the straightforward phrase that leaps out from this latest court filing comes from a witness telling the F.B.I. that Mr. Manafort had tried to "suborn perjury." Such an effort would qualify as a definite legal no-no.
Meanwhile, Scott Pruitt, head of the Environmental Protection Agency, has once again burnished his reputation as the Trump administration's biggest grifter. On Monday, Democrats on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee asked the committee's chairman, Representative Trey Gowdy, tosubpoena the E.P.A.for documents relating to Mr. Pruitt's "multiple abuses of authority in using agency staff for his own personal purposes."
Specifically, Democrats want to know more about Mr. Pruitt's reportedly asking his agency scheduler, Millan Hupp, to handle various tasks for him, including finding him a new place to live last summer — a monthslong, labor-intensive process — and trying to help him buy a used mattress from the Trump International Hotel in Washington.
The mattress caper was, at least, more exotic than Mr. Pruitt's usual shopping misadventures — the nearly $10,000 to decorate his office, the dozen customized fountain pens for $1,560, the $43,000 soundproof phone booth. It even could be seen as a positive sign that he has abandoned his spendthrift ways. No matter: By Tuesday, Mr. Pruitt's furnishing needs became old news when it was revealed that he had also asked an aide to help his wife, Marlyn, procure a Chick-fil-A franchise. Calls were arranged and the application process begun, but Mrs. Pruitt never did open a restaurant.
Some of this stems from the Russia investigation. In examining how Mr. Trump's inner circle operates, Mr. Mueller is uncovering all manner ofquestionable dealings— some of them illegal, others merely appalling.
That said, the Trump Effect extends beyond the Mueller inquiry and into the shameless, often hapless characters with whom this president surrounds himself. Let's not forget, among others,Tom Price(private jets),John McEntee(financial crimes) orRob Porter(spousal abuse) — and down, down the drain they go.
When candidate Trump vowed to drain the swamp, he most likely didn't do so with the thought of targeting his own cadre of aides and advisers. But whatever his intentions, the Trump era is proving to be a master class in the many ways to abuse power — and the many ways to get busted for it.
This edition ends today with a musical interlude of the president trying to lip-sync, but failing in a musical rendition of "something marvelous and patriotic". This sad display from someone who wants to deport athletes who disobey his command to stand and display patriotism at work. VIDEO:Trump Stumbles Through 'God Bless America'
Patriotism is not a short and frenzied outburst of emotion but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime.- Adlai Stevenson