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Est. April 5, 2002
Feb 25, 2021 - Issue 854
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For the most part, the U.S. presidency has not been a money-making proposition, but the former president, “45,” as he is known in some circles, apparently has made money hand over fist in the four years he was in office...$1.6 billion, to be exact.

So, why wouldn’t he be magnanimous in donating his paltry $400,000 annual salary as president to some unknown charity or charities. It only comes to 0.1 percent (one-tenth of 1 percent) of what he managed to scam from governments and individuals, in apparent and flagrant violation of the emoluments clause of the U.S. Constitution.

A report just released by CREW (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington) showed that Donald Trump, in just four years, received a high-end estimate of $1,790,614,202, but CREW noted: “...but it is impossible to know exactly how much he pocketed as president, as some of his assets list a vague ‘over $5,000,000’ in yearly income..”

When Trump refused to separate himself from his business enterprises when he became president, CREW immediately sued him for violating the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution. That was on his first day in office, because he had refused to divest from his business interests. Trump did go through the motions of handing over his businesses to his sons, Eric and Donald Jr., but that separation was a scam, for he never cut off contact with the two during his time in office and it would be a giant stretch to think that the three of them never discussed the family businesses, especially when they were in the business of stumping for him on the campaign trail. The only thing that was blind in that blind trust were the people who believed that he was not planning to rake in money by the ton. He and his family have been called grifters, but his grift was so big that he could be called a griftosaurus. Truly, he is the dinosaur of grifters.

CREW has stated: “We tracked more than 3,700 conflicts of interest stemming from Trump’s ownership of his businesses during his presidency, and we sounded the alarm on the steps he has taken to undermine accountability and checks and balances. We took hundreds of actions each year of the Trump era to fight his blatant corruption, and our work to push for accountability is not slowing down anytime soon. While the most corrupt president in American history is no longer in office, CREW’s work is far from done - in some ways, we are just getting started. This is the time to push for accountability for Trump’s abuses of power, particularly in his last days in office and during the armed insurrection on January 6th, 2021, and to monitor how those in Trump’s orbit profit from his presidency in the private sector. We will also hold those now in power to appropriately high ethical standards to try to bring about an ethical government that works for all Americans.”

As much as he could, Trump directed government business to his properties, whether it was one of his golf courses or a hotel (especially the grand hotel near the White House), or Mar-a-Lago, where he spent much time during his presidency and where he purports to make his permanent home. His neighbors in Florida, however, are urging the local government to force Trump to adhere to a contract he made when Mar-a-Lago was converted from a residence to a very expensive club. The agreement prohibits anyone to live there permanently, even Trump, but a contract never stopped the con-man supreme from ignoring words on paper and riding roughshod over the paper and any people who get in his way.

The goal of CREW and other watchdog groups is to point out corruption and graft, but in the process, the investigations point out who has the power in a society like the U.S. Clearly, it is not the people, although the people rose up in the election last November to show that they are aware of who wields the power. One could look at the results of the election and surmise that the people do, indeed, want to wield some of that power themselves.

Despite all of the attempts by politicians, especially Republicans at both the state and federal level, to curb the right to vote, people came out in record numbers to cast Trump aside and make him a pathetic part of the nation’s makeup. Even if he controls all or a significant part of the Republican Party in the near future, Trump’s final place is in a dismal and dark corner of the U.S. history.

In a significant way, his presidency should serve as a warning about how easy it is to sway millions to support a con-man and freeloader into a veritable cult of a twisted personality. The Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol is one small sample of what an unhinged leader can cause among many equally unhinged followers. Those poor followers (not necessarily in a financial sense) thought he was with them in their attack on the legislative branch. He told them he would be with them, as they walked from his rabble-rousing speech to the Capitol, but even in that, he lied to them and headed back to the safety of the White House, where he watched his violent handiwork develop on television.

Even after that display of cowardice, he likely lost but a few of his followers, all of whom should have known better. They would not want their young children to be on a playground with a bully like Trump, but they would follow his command to commit crimes in his name and expect to get away blameless. It’s the work of a demagogue and the former president fits the description of one, that is, he appeals to the baser instincts and prejudices of the people, rather than appealing to their better natures. Trump has honed this skill to a razor’s edge and he only got better at it during the past four destructive years.

The investigation by CREW and its continuing actions, both in financial records and in court, will show what kind of president he actually was, not that a majority of Americans need to know in detail what they know by observation of Trump’s public life, personal or presidential. And they know by the actions he took which side of the divide he is on. There never has been a day in his life that he was the least bit concerned about working men and women, or minorities, or the poor.

That he gave up his $400,000 annual presidential salary is a throwaway fact, while millions of American families are trying to support themselves on $40,000 a year or less. All of the people should remember that he took in at least $1.6 billion while he was president. He is no champion of working people or the “forgotten Americans.” For him, all citizens who can’t afford a $250,000 membership to his Mar-a-Lago club are forgotten. Columnist, John Funiciello, is a former newspaper reporter and labor organizer, who lives in the Mohawk Valley of New York State. In addition to labor work, he is organizing family farmers as they struggle to stay on the land under enormous pressure from factory food producers and land developers. Contact Mr. Funiciello and BC.

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is published Thursday
Executive Editor:
David A. Love, JD
Managing Editor:
Nancy Littlefield, MBA
Peter Gamble

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