I listened this morning, once again, to yet another journalist on television (CNN) grill a Clinton supporter about the Clinton Foundation. On another cable news channel (MSNBC) this morning, the great Joe Conason (who has a new book out on Bill Clinton) got into an argument with Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski after they, as they frequently do, alleged corruption related to the Clinton Foundation. Conason insisted that nothing has been found indicating corruption, which didn’t set well with the two smirking hosts. Then, during the next segment, after Conason was long gone off the set, Scarborough attacked him ruthlessly (Conason has already published an account of what happened, along with why Scarborough was totally wrong).
Let’s be clear here: After countless reporters—and countless partisan enemies of the Clintons—over countless days and months have scoured the countryside looking for the tiniest amount of evidence that there was pay-for-play corruption involved with the Clinton Foundation, they haven’t found anything of substance. Yet the issue remains alive and well because those same reporters (and partisan pundits like Scarborough, who as a Congressman helped impeach Bill Clinton) just know there is something there because a) the Clintons are corrupt and b) they are good at hiding their corruption.
In the meantime, there is real corruption related to Donald Trump that, for some reason, doesn’t make good television, judging by how much attention it doesn’t get. Just for the record, I will summarize some of that corruption via an article by The Atlantic’s David A. Graham (“The Many Scandals of Donald Trump: A Cheat Sheet“) and other sources:
- David Fahrenthold, of The Washington Post, has been reporting for months on just how much money Trump doesn’t give to his own tiny Trump Foundation (none since 2008). What he does do is spend other people’s money, sometimes on things he keeps for himself.
- In 2010 Trump received an award from the Palm Beach Police Foundation for his “selfless support.” The problem was that the support didn’t come from Trump. It came from another foundation. And it turns out that Trump, on the night he was being honored, may have made much more money for himself than the charity received! Fahrenthold writes:
“The gala was held at his Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, and the police foundation paid to rent the room. It’s unclear how much was paid in 2010, but the police foundation reported in its tax filings that it rented Mar-a-Lago in 2014 for $276,463.”
- “Fahrenthold has also now found five cases where the Trump Foundation reported donations that it did not make.”
- We all have heard Trump brag about throwing money at politicians so “they do whatever the hell you want them to do.” One of those politicians was Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who happened to ask Trump for money when she was considering going after his fraudulent Trump “University.” Illegally, Trump made the donation from his foundation and later had to pay a penalty to the IRS for doing so. Oh, the price for not pursuing justice for Trump’s victims in Florida we now know: $25,000.
- Trump settled a lawsuit in 1997 in which it was alleged that he groped a woman, Jill Harth, who was trying to discuss a business deal with him in 1992. “If I hadn’t pushed him away, I’m sure he would have just went for it. He was aggressive,” Harth says today. She dropped the lawsuit after Trump paid an undisclosed sum.
- There have been countless allegations against Trump related to his family’s properties, most famously the lawsuit brought by Richard Nixon’s Justice Department in 1973 against Fred and Donald Trump for housing discrimination against people of color. Another famous case was Trump Plaza casino in New Jersey, which was fined $200,000 for making black employees leave the floor to please a racist and misogynist mobster, Robert LiButti, who had ties to Mafia boss John Gotti. Oh, LiButti’s daughter said Trump was “a liar” for claiming he didn’t know her dad. He knew him very well, she said.
- Speaking of mobsters, there is plenty of evidence (here and here and here for instance) that Trump has frequently done business with wise guys. Most of us have heard of at least one of those deals, which involved hiring 200 undocumented Polish workers to demolish the building where Trump Tower now stands. David Kay Johnston has looked into all the wise guy connections and wrote: “What emerges is a pattern of business dealings with mob figures—not only local figures, but even the son of a reputed Russian mob boss whom Trump had at his side at a gala Trump hotel opening, but has since claimed under oath he barely knows.” Would Hillary Clinton survive even the hint of Mafia connections?
- Trump’s lawyer for years, the godawful Roy Cohn, was also the lawyer for bosses of the Genovese crime family and the Gambino crime family in New York. Again, imagine if the Clintons’ lawyer had such obvious ties to the Mafia.
- Then there’s Trump University. If you don’t know about that scam, shame on you or shame on the press or both. At the very least you have heard how Trump attacked the “Mexican” judge hearing the lawsuit against Trump University in California. This fraudulent scheme, maybe more than anything else, demonstrates what a greedy con artist Trump has been his entire adult life. Oh, but Hillary’s emails!
- Then there is that time when Trump purchased a building full of tenants in New York and wanted to demolish it and build luxury condos. Except the tenants refused to allow Trump to break their leases with the previous owner. Trump’s predictable response was to cut off their heat and water and refuse to make needed repairs and then sue them for $150 million when they complained. Eventually, he lost that fight because, well, he’s a loser. But he has since embraced the idea of using eminent domain for private projects like the one he tried to get done.
- Back to those 200 undocumented Polish workers who made way for Trump Tower. They were paid, when they actually got paid, substandard wages. As The Atlantic wrote, “The workers didn’t wear hard hats and often slept at the site. When the workers complained about their back pay, they were allegedly threatened with deportation.” Trump, of course, lied—what else is new?—about knowing the undocumented workers were working there. But he not only knew, he was responsible for bringing them in.
- As far as his business acumen and honesty, here I will quote an entire paragraph from The Atlantic piece:
Trump has been repeatedly fined for breaking rules related to his operation of casinos. In 1990, with Trump Taj Mahal in trouble, Trump’s father Fred strolled in and bought 700 chiops worth a total of $3.5 million. The purchase helped the casino pay debt that was due, but because Fred Trump had no plans to gamble, the New Jersey gaming commission ruled that it was a loan that violated operating rules. Trump paid a $30,000 fine; in the end, the loan didn’t prevent a bankruptcy the following year. As noted above, New Jersey also fined Trump $200,000 for arranging to keep black employees away from mafioso Robert LiButti’s gambling table. In 1991, the Casino Control Commission fined Trump’s company another $450,000 for buying LiButti nine luxury cars. And in 2000, Trump was fined $250,000 for breaking New York state law in lobbying to prevent an Indian casino from opening in the Catskills, for fear it would compete against his Atlantic City casinos.
- Speaking of undocumented workers, which Trump has made so much of during his campaign, foreign young women who claim they worked for Trump’s modeling agency say they did so without proper documentation and in some cases were encouraged “to deceive customs officials about why they were visiting the United States and told them to lie on customs forms about where they intended to live.” The young women, some as young as 14, were packed into small apartments (“like a sweatshop,” said one) owned by Trump’s agency, which, predictably, rented the cramped apartments to the models at much higher than market rates. One model told Mother Jones magazine that she woke up one day and thought it was raining on her. But, no, it was merely “a bum pissing on my window, splashing me in my Trump Model bed.” Hopefully the bum had tiny hands like the model’s landlord.
- The Federal Trade Commission fined Trump $750,000 in 1986 for not disclosing stock purchases designed to “mount a hostile takeover of two casino companies” in New Jersey.
- Before the real estate crash in 2007-2008, Trump got “heavily involved in condo hotels,” which failed miserably. Many of the buyers sued him and he, as usual, settled without admitting wrongdoing. Trump’s partners in one of those developments, Trump SoHo in Manhattan, featured folks with a “lengthy criminal past.” How’d that happen to such a brilliant businessman?
- Hillary Clinton herself has tried to make an issue out of Trump cheating small businesses out of money he owed them for work performed or services rendered. Alas, the mainstream press doesn’t care that much about “Contractors, waiters, dishwashers, and plumbers who have worked at Trump projects” getting stiffed by the cheap and phony “billionaire.” I will hand it to USA Today for doing at least one story on it, saying,
Donald Trump often portrays himself as a savior of the working class who will “protect your job.” But a USA TODAY NETWORK analysis found he has been involved in more than 3,500 lawsuits over the past three decades — and a large number of those involve ordinary Americans, like the Friels, who say Trump or his companies have refused to pay them.
- Besides the fraudulent Trump University, which Trump owned, there is the fraudulent Trump Institute to which Trump licensed his name and promised to would-be “students” that he would “hand-pick instructors.” He didn’t, of course, and the two get-rich schemers who ran the con filed bankruptcy in 2008, even though the scheme apparently goes on to this day, plagiarized textbooks and all.
- Trump has overcharged his campaign for the various properties he uses for campaign events or fundraisers. The money used to pay these overcharges comes from his donors and goes to him. So does the money he used to buy up copies of his ridiculous book, Crippled America: How to Make America Great Again. I hope those small-dollar donors enjoy the fact that Trump has spent more than $55,000 of their money buying his own book, the money going into his pocket. (He may have broken campaign rules for doing that, by the way.)
- Then there is the ongoing scandal of not releasing any tax returns. Journalists, every now and then, will press Trump or his surrogates and campaign officials as to why he won’t do what has become normalized behavior for those seeking the presidency. But when Trump or his spokesmen push back, journalists move on rather quickly. After all, there is Hillary’s “lack of transparency” to get to.
- Then there is the ongoing scandal over Trump’s affection for Vladimir Putin and his possible ties to Russian moneyed interests. This is connected to the scandal over his refusal to release his tax returns and, again, the few journalists who do ask about it are quickly shut down and just as quickly move on to something else. Because there is always something else with Trump. Or there is always the Clinton Foundation that raises never-ending “questions,” even though the answers to those questions point away from corruption.
Meanwhile, the polls are tightening up, as too many Americans, the deplorable among them, embrace a man who may be the most unethical, secretive, greedy, amoral asshole who ever ran for office.