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Corrupt State a greater concern than the Deep State

By Robert B. Reich, Tribune Content Agency on

Donald Trump has been ramping up his "Deep State" rhetoric again. He's back to blaming a cabal of bureaucrats, FBI and CIA agents, Democrats and "enemies of the people" in the mainstream media for conspiring to remove him from office in order to allow the denizens of foreign "s***holes" to overrun America.

But with each passing day it's becoming clearer that the real threat to America isn't Trump's Deep State. It's Trump's own Corrupt State.

Not since Warren G. Harding's sordid administration have as many grifters, crooks and cronies occupied high positions in Washington.

Trump has installed a Star Wars cantina of former lobbyists and con artists, including several whose exploits have already forced them to resign, such as Scott Pruitt, Ryan Zinke, Tom Price and Michael Flynn. Many others remain.

When he was in Congress, the current White House acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, pocketed tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from payday lenders, then proposed loosening regulations on them. Trump also made Mulvaney acting head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, of all things.

When he was Trump's special adviser on regulatory reform, Wall Street billionaire Carl Icahn sought to gut EPA's rule on ethanol credits, which was harming his oil refinery investments.

 

Last week, it was reported that a real estate company partly owned by Trump son-in-law and foreign policy adviser Jared Kushner has raked in $90 million from foreign investors since Kushner entered the White House through a secret tax haven run by Goldman Sachs in the Cayman Islands. Kushner's stake is worth up to $50 million.

All this takes conflict of interest to a new level of shamelessness.

What are Republicans doing about it? Participating in it.

Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, who also happens to be the wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, has approved $78 million in grants for her husband's home state of Kentucky, including a highway-improvement project that had been twice rejected in the past. Chao has even appointed a special liaison to coordinate grants with McConnell's office. Oh, did I mention that McConnell is up for re-election next year?

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