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Est. April 5, 2002
Apr 30, 2020 - Issue 816
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Trump as Liar-Hustler-In-Chief

"Lying, hustling, and grifting appear to be a cornerstone
of the Trump family’s success in business and politics. 
But these traits could now be turning against Trump, the
President, as he seeks reelection.  The public has registered
its ongoing disapproval of his behavior during the COVID-19
pandemic and appears to be tiring of his lying and maladministration."

  • It has now been well documented that President Trump deliberately ignored warnings of the impending coronavirus crisis despite more than a dozen warnings from the intelligence community, his HHS secretary, and other cabinet officials.

  • Trump persists in lying about the status of testing for COVID-19 when he and his staff know that they lag behind many countries in per-capita tests, production of swabs and re-agents, contact tracing, a centralized process, and the leadership to arrest the coronavirus pandemic.

  • In his desperation to win re-election, Trump is now sacrificing the lives of his rural, white diehard acolytes, in mostly red states—e.g., Indiana, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Oklahoma--with his executive order compelling meat processors to remain open, with no mandates for worker safety, even as coronavirus infections and deaths escalate.

  • He is doing so to accommodate the profit motives of the billionaire owners who are contributing heavily to his campaign coffers.

  • At the same time, he has threatened to de-fund the U.S. Post Office whose workforce has long served as a mainstay for access to the middle class for minority groups, thus sanctioning the economic ravaging of these communities that are already being devastated as a result of his mismanagement of the COVID-19 plague.

  • Other than to provide a headline-grabbing moment, and to facilitate Democratic unity, Hillary Clinton’s recent endorsement of Joe Biden for President does little for his campaign since he is already poised to win the key states of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin (which she lost), and her past voters are already aligned with him.

According to Trump, the nation has weathered the worst of the coronavirus contagion, and it will soon be over. He also made similar statements in February, March, and early April and stated that the country will soon be able to generate five million COVID-19 tests daily. Yet the U.S. has produced less than six million in total so far. Trump has consistently demonstrated the ability to fabricate information with the believability that satisfies his base.

But even more distressing is his promotion of quack cures for the coronavirus that is placing the public at dangerous risk. Hydroxychloroquine, ultraviolent light exposure, and the injestion and/or injection of disinfectants (the latter which prompted the Lysol Corporation to issue a disclaimer) have all been presented by Trump in the White House briefing room as the solutions to the outbreak.

He has given the green light to internet scammers, charlatan physicians, and other hucksters who are advancing remedies that are even more bizarre than his and has let his fellow hustling dogs out, further jeopardizing the nation’s health.

Meanwhile, he and his family members continue to grift for government dollars to prop up their real estate business. The Trump Corporation has made a request to the Trump Administration to lower its lease payments for the Trump International Hotel, which is owned and operated by the President but is in a federally owned building.

Located a few blocks from the White House, the Hotel has been a favorite place for lodging for foreign dignitaries seeking an audience and favors from the President. Lobbyists, Republican Party leaders, and cabinet officials, including U.S. Attorney General William Barr, have also hosted social events there. It is understood that spending money there is a rite of political passage.

Trump and his family members seize every opportunity to feed at the public trough and/or to bend the law for their personal gain. One of the most egregious examples was the avoidance of paying income taxes on his $413 million inheritance, in today’s dollars, from his father’s real estate empire.

Records show that Trump helped his father take improper tax deductions worth millions more. He and his siblings also helped design a strategy to undervalue his parents’ real estate holdings by hundreds of millions of dollars on tax returns, sharply reducing the tax bill when those properties were transferred to them.

His sister, Judge Maryanne Barry Trump, of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit was the only Trump sibling to take a fall for the aforementioned financial shenanigans. An investigation by the New York Times revealed that she had engaged in dubious tax schemes and outright fraud with her family during the early 1990s, from which she benefitted financially. The Times also found she was in a position to influence the actions taken by her family.

Subsequent to these revelations, four complaints regarding her purported financial impropriety were filed in October 2018 with the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. In a letter dated Feb. 1, 2019, the four complainants were notified that the enquiry was “receiving the full attention” of a judicial conduct council. Judge Barry Trump filed her retirement papers shortly thereafter.

Her status change terminated the investigation since retired judges are not subject to the conduct rules. The individuals who filed the complaints were informed that the accusations had been dropped with no findings on their merits. Had Judge Barry Trump been found guilty, she could have been censured, reprimanded, or referred to the House of Representatives for impeachment.

Lying, hustling, and grifting appear to be a cornerstone of the Trump family’s success in business and politics. But these traits could now be turning against Trump, the President, as he seeks reelection. The public has registered its ongoing disapproval of his behavior during the COVID-19 pandemic and appears to be tiring of his lying and maladministration.

The polls, which should be taken as a grain of salt at this point, affirm these observations. As coronavirus deaths mount within Trump’s heretofore impregnable base of rabid supporters, they may encourage a few to stay home on November 3rd or possibly switch their vote to Biden who is a far less polarizing candidates than was Hillary.

Biden has been a beneficiary of all the political stars lining up in his favor, up to now, although he has lacked sufficient campaign funding and organization. He has surged to the front, apparently, on the basis of a national desire for normalcy and competence. Biden could just be in the right place at the right time.

However, he still must make the most consequential decision of his candidacy—the selection of his vice presidential running mate—and get his ground game and his get-out-the-vote (GOTV) effort into high gear. He needs to realize that Trump is still a formidable opponent as he will pursue any tactic to win.

links to all 20 parts of the opening series Columnist, Dr. Walter C. Farrell, Jr., PhD, MSPH, is a Fellow of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) at the University of Colorado-Boulder and has written widely on vouchers, charter schools, and public school privatization. He has served as Professor of Social Work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and as Professor of Educational Policy and Community Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Contact Dr. Farrell and BC.

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