Our president, the son of a corrupt sociopath, is a corrupt sociopath. I say that in a nonjudgmental way, based solely on his compulsive lying, uncontrollable bragging, greed, constant anger, vengefulness and absolute lack of empathy.
Congress passed a more than two trillion dollar ($2,400,000,000,000.00) “stimulus” bill in late March, providing $1,200 for every American householder with an income of less than $75,000, expanded unemployment benefits for the more than 20,000,000 Americans who lost their jobs during the pandemic and many, many hundreds of billions for businesses and industries hurt by the coronavirus.
Oversight and transparency were going to be big problems in an administration that hates both of those things, with a Senate that rubber stamps whatever the president demands and a president who makes his will known by tweet.
The president, believing himself to be the smartest and most ethical (and unfairly persecuted) man in the world, chafes at the idea of anyone investigating anything to do with him and his cronies. He condemns all such attempts at oversight as illegal, politically motivated witch hunts. His current Attorney General backs him up: the president is being unfairly targeted by unscrupulous enemies, constantly, with unprecedented ferocity, possibly with criminal motives, motives that are currently under DOJ criminal investigation.
On April 1, 2020, Bill Moyers interviewed Neil Barofsky, the special investigator general appointed by George W. Bush in 2008 to track the $750,000,000,000 in TARP bailout money as it was being spent. You will recall that the financial industry, the guys who engineered the massive falsely triple A-rated toxic asset-based fraud that smashed the world economy for a few years, were “made whole” by the bailouts — getting their huge personal bonuses, the industry emerging from the crisis of their making more profitable and more powerful than before. None of that was special inspector general Barofsky’s fault — he fought every corrupt maneuver as it was happening, possibly thwarted a few.
Moyers and Barofsky spoke of the need for strict oversight and complete transparency for distribution of this vast stimulus/bailout package. Much of the oversight, it appeared, was to be done by Trump’s Secretary of the Treasury, Steve Mnuchin. As for transparency, the money was to be distributed by Mnuchin, to those most worthy to get it, with no public accountability as it was handed out. Moyers:
They wanted the Secretary of the Treasury, Steven Mnuchin, to be free to choose who gets the money and who doesn’t. And to keep his choices from the public for six months. McConnell then tried to weaken a strong oversight proposal. Finally, as we saw, both sides compromised, and the bill was passed with, you know, amazing bipartisan support.
Yet, when the president signed the bill last week, the only people he had in the Oval Office with him were Republican members of Congress and the Secretary of the Treasury. Now, what do you take from that? As a moment of bipartisan triumph, the first time in years this happened in Washington, the only people who get invited to celebrate with the president in the Oval Office are Republicans?
The compromise included this provision:
Bill Moyers: I’m sure you noticed that Congress actually borrowed ideas and even language concerning the inspector general’s office from the first bailout bill, to include it in the bailout bill we’re talking about.
The language about the new inspector general is supposed to monitor how the Treasury Department extends loans and loan guarantees to businesses. And the new legislation requires the new inspector general to notify Congress immediately if the White House doesn’t cooperate fully with an audit or investigation.
At one point, Moyers described Mnuchin’s many untruthful responses and non-responses during his Senate confirmation:
But at the same time, Neil, the new law gives the Treasury Department broad discretion over how to disperse these billions upon billions of dollars. And the fellow running Treasury, Steven Mnuchin, has been implicated in so many scandals, I wouldn’t want him in the same room with my kid’s piggy bank.
During his confirmation he failed to disclose to the Senate Finance Committee nearly $100 million in assets. He didn’t tell them about his role as a director of an investment fund in the Cayman Islands, where very rich people send their money to be laundered. He lied to Congress about foreclosure misconduct activity by a bank he managed. He reportedly misled Congress about a deal the Treasury Department struck with a Russian oligarch close to Vladimir Putin.
This is the man President Trump wants to hand out billions of dollars to corporations and to Wall Street, a guy up to his neck in various conflicts of interest, self-dealing, and ethics lapses. All you have to do is read David Dayen’s book Chain of Title— to see how he chronicles the way Mnuchin got fabulously rich while hundreds of thousands lost their homes. What does that do to your optimism about the potential success of this bailout?
And they spoke about the crying need for real, professional, dispassionate, nonpartisan oversight, beyond the president’s promise that he would provide the oversight, make sure everything was done fair and square. What could go wrong with a greedy, corrupt, compulsively lying, secretive, justice obstructing, increasingly desperate, litigious man hiding his own taxes, financial records, school transcripts and everything else being in charge of oversight and transparency?
As Moyers and Barofsky spoke about the need for oversight, and their relief that a special inspector general had been agreed to in a bipartisan compromise, I kept thinking: didn’t Trump fire a bunch of inspectors general? Google was quick with the answer.
During a pandemic, Mr. Trump took the opportunity to rid himself of five pesky, disloyal inspectors general. Inspectors general:
are appointed by the president and are supposed to be confirmed by the Senate, although many current IGs are in an acting capacity and have not been confirmed by the Senate. The president may dismiss an inspector general, but is supposed to give Congress 30 days’ notice and an explanation of the reason for removing them. The 30 days’ notice requirement was added to the 1978 law in 2008; its purpose was to re-emphasize the role of the IG as an independent watchdog and to dissuade presidents from retaliatory firings.
The first to get the ax, on Friday night, April 7, was Michael Atkinson, the Intelligence Community IG, the man who determined the whistleblower complaint about Trump’s perfect July 2019 call to Zelensky, (the famous NOT quid pro quo for which Trump was totally exonerated by McConnell, Lindsey Graham and Alan Dershowitz) was credible and urgent. Atkinson got the Alexander Vindman treatment.
Also fired on Friday, April 7 was Glenn Fine, Defense Department IG, the man selected to head the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee (PRAC) team of IGs tasked with overseeing the spending of $2.4 trillion in CARE Act funds. His crime, apparently, was being selected head IG for overseeing distribution of the $2.4 trillion covid relief package.
When Trump signed the coronavirus funding bill, he had issued a signing statement challenging the required oversight committee, and said that he personally would take the oversight role and would be in control of what information was sent to Congress about the use of the $2 trillion in relief funds authorized by the bill.
The next three IG firings and demotions followed within a few weeks, while the country struggled to conduct its uncoordinated, failed covid-19 response.
IG of the Transportation Department (run by McConnell’s wife, heir to a Chinese shipping fortune), Mitch Behm, who among other duties (all quotes are from this piece from lying CBS):
is listed as a member of the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee (PRAC), which is tasked with overseeing implementation of the $2.4 trillion coronavirus relief packages passed by Congress in response to the coronavirus pandemic and composed of 20 inspectors general.
Christi Grimm, acting IG of Health and Human Services, was replaced after she:
released a report detailing testing and supply shortages in hospitals responding to the coronavirus pandemic. Grimm found “severe” shortages of testing supplies, “widespread shortages of PPE,” difficulties in maintaining adequate staffing levels and in expanding hospital capacity.
The president called the report “just wrong” in a briefing with reporters and demanded to know when Grimm was appointed to the position. On Twitter, Mr. Trump questioned whether she scrutinized the H1N1 pandemic that occurred during the Obama administration and accused her of falling to speak with top military officials and Vice President Mike Pence about the response to the coronavirus.
Steve Linick, IG of the State Department, who had the temerity (stupidity, really… from a short-term career standpoint) to open a corruption investigation into Trump’s current loyal Secretary of State, pious Christian anti-communist Mike Pompeo. Linick had apparently been begging for it, daring Trump to fire him:
The White House said Trump had dismissed Linick at the request of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Linick had been investigating whether Pompeo had used government employees to run personal errands for him. In a separate, almost completed investigation, Linick was reportedly looking into whether Pompeo had evaded Congressional limitations on arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates by declaring an emergency, even though none existed. A third line of inquiry into Pompeo was his regular hosting of several dozen lavish, taxpayer-funded “Madison Dinners” at the State Department for hundreds of attendees, including many influential business and media figures; there were concerns that Pompeo had been using the dinners to further his own political career (assembling the names and contact information of possible future contributors and fundraisers), rather than for official diplomatic purposes, potentially violating the Hatch Act.
So disloyal, SAD!
Eliot Engel, a New York congressman who chairs the House Foreign Affairs panel, said in a statement Linick’s office was investigating Pompeo and said his “firing amid such a probe strongly suggests that this is an unlawful act of retaliation.”
Senator Chuck Grassley, a Republican from Iowa who led the call for a more thorough reasoning from Mr. Trump for his removal of Atkinson, again reiterated the president’s responsibility to provide justification to Congress when firing an inspector general.
“A general lack of confidence simply is not sufficient detail to satisfy Congress,” Grassley said Saturday.
“No reason to get excited,” the thief he kindly spoke.
“Nothing to see here, you vicious, dangerous, sick, disloyal pricks,” muttered the innocent president to nobody in particular, as he made preparations to deploy more riot-geared federal goon squads to violently protect anything within ten square blocks of American historical statues in America’s most openly disloyal cities.
A very stable genius, you’d better believe it.