Donald Trump is really packing in the bad acts in the final months of the year, in yet another clear sign he believes he’s losing this election. CNN reports that the White House is pushing the Defense Department to grant a massively lucrative no-bid lease of 5G spectrum to a company with deep Republican—and Trump—connections.
If Trump manages to pressure the Pentagon into approving such a contract for Rivada Networks, it would be “the biggest handoff of economic power to a single entity in history,” a senior administration official told CNN. Over the summer the government auctioned off 70 megahertz of spectrum for $4.5 billion—and Trump is pushing to lease five times that to Rivada.
Karl Rove, a lobbyist and investor for Rivada Networks, claims that the company wants a competitive bidding process, saying “If we were offered a no-bid contract we would turn it down.” Uh-huh, sure.
The Pentagon is reportedly pushing back, wanting to take its time vetting any possible impact of such a deal on military readiness. “Pentagon lawyers have told the White House that their department has no authority to issue RFPs for the purpose of leasing or selling off its spectrum, and they think that to do so in the manner the White House is pushing would be a complete deviation from normal rules and regulations,” CNN reports. But this is not a White House that has ever worried about completely deviating from normal rules and regulations, and so far the Defense Department has generally folded under pressure.
Members of Congress—including 19 Republican senators—have pushed back on the perceived rush by the White House, with the Republicans not naming Rivada but expressing concern about a plan that would not “rely on private industry and market forces to foster multiple, facilities-based 5G networks.”
This isn’t the only case of Trump rushing to get something irrevocably done before he can be forced out of office. Most obviously there’s his effort to jam through Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court, but he is also trying to lock in drilling leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. If Joe Biden wins, he’s going to be dealing with a big mess intentionally created to keep Trump’s priorities moving forward regardless of any rejection by voters.