The news that Trump’s team commandeered the Mar-a-Lago bar, kicked out the bartender over “confidentiality” concerns, drank $1,000 worth of hard liquor, and left it to taxpayers to pay the bill is … is … you know, what the hell do you even say about that?
ProPublica reviewed correspondence between the Trump Organization and the State Department and it’s all a ridiculous wreck of taxpayer-funded self-dealing in which “business owner” Donald Trump and associates raids the federal purse on a now-regular, barely-raises-eyebrows basis. And you’d better believe “business owner” Donald Trump is sticking it to taxpayers good and hard as his company tries to squeeze the Secret Service, the State Department, and the rest of government for every last dime and then some.
The emails show that the president’s company refused to agree to what was essentially a bulk-purchase agreement with the federal government, and that it charged the maximum allowable federal rate for hotel rooms. The Trump Organization could be obstinate when it came to rates for, say, function rooms at Mar-a-Lago, a problem that was eased when the president signed a law lifting the maximum “micro-purchase” the government can make.
Oh, sure. Federal agencies were previously barred from paying such obviously crooked prices for services—so the obvious answer is to make those higher rates legal. Dodged a bullet on that one, Mar-a-Lago.
Why the hell are we even debating this? Why the hell are we not even debating this? A sitting (Republican, of course) president is making cash money off his office and the self-described (Republican, of course) policers of “waste, fraud and abuse” are rhetorically disemboweling themselves in their efforts to declare all of it Good Now, Actually. It is kleptocracy as governing principle.
To be sure, it’s difficult to focus on this sort of petty max-rate charging of the taxpayers by a sitting president’s own company when it is forever overshadowed by the same “president” obstructing an investigation into Russian espionage, regularly siding with dictatorships over his own intelligence community and being so devoted to regular lying that nobody is quite sure whether the man is obsessively dishonest on purpose or is in the throes of dementia. But if we ever come out of this madness, everyone who willingly spent so much as a single meal at Trump’s own properties during his tenure in the Oval Office should be barred from government service permanently, full stop.
If you can’t figure out why it’s crooked to pay into a sitting president’s ongoing “business” ventures, after all, you are quite obviously one of the crooks. It’s not a bloody close call.