Sohn: Drain the swamp - the Trump swamp

Sohn: Drain the swamp - the Trump swamp

October 2nd, 2017 by Pam Sohn in Opinion Times

President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting at the White House last week. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Photo by Evan Vucci

So much for the promises of Donald Trump to "drain the swamp."

Remember when he said he'd release his tax returns when he was nominated? Then when he was elected? Notice that he still hasn't and now says he won't?

Remember when he said he'd fully separate himself from his private business dealings, but didn't really?

Remember when he said Hillary Clinton's use of her private, personal email qualified to "lock her up?" Now we're told @realDonaldTrump should be considered "official" statements. And that's only the half of it.

We're still months away from the Trump administration marking a full year in the White House, but he and his team make any trumped up scandal surrounding Clinton or any others in the Obama administration look like spilled coffee.

Even before the election, Trump's campaign manager's financial dependency on Russia by way of Ukraine came to light. Less than a month in office, Trump's national security adviser had to be shown the door for similar self dealing with Russia and Turkey and other truly national security risks.

Trump's own son and son-in-law met with Russians in situations we've learned were efforts to both get dirt on Clinton and also to talk deals on a back channel of communication — if nothing else.

Now we learn that at least six current and former top White House officials, including that son-in-law, Jared Kushner, Trump's daughter Ivanka and his chief economic adviser, Gary Cohn, have been using private email accounts at times for government business.

Over and over again, those same campaign and administration advisers failed to fully disclose any of these facts, their assets or their meetings (particularly with any foreign person or group that spoke Russian).

Meanwhile, one of the first things the Trump administration did was do away with the public White House visitors log, ensuring that there is no easy way for the public to know who visits our government, when and why.

But there's more. Bring on the ice cream for this cesspool of a cake.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs banker, tried to use a $25,000-per-hour Air Force jet to for his honeymoon to Europe, and Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt has booked $58,000 in noncommercial and military flights. And he commissioned a $25,000 "secure phone booth" for his office.

But this is all just small change compared to former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, who resigned Friday amid news stories that his tax-payer tab for travel on special commercial charter and military jets is reportedly tallied near $1 million for more than 20 flights. He could have flown commercial like everyone else for a fraction of that.

Price, a multimillionaire former orthopedist who had a history of dubious stock trades when he was a Georgia congressman, should never have been nominated, let alone confirmed as a Cabinet member.

In March 2016, one week after then-U.S. Rep Price announced he would oppose a sensible Medicare proposal to limit the money doctors could make from drugs they prescribe their patients, he bought stocks in six pharmaceutical companies that would benefit from the proposal's defeat. Those same companies were successfully lobbying Congress to block the change.

That same year he also bought shares in a company that makes hip and knee implants. Six days later, according to CNN, he introduced a bill that would that have directly helped that implant maker.

And the Wall Street Journal reported that he accepted a special offer from an Australian drug company to buy discounted shares. He was among fewer than 20 Americans receiving that special officer. The stock jumped, but the ever arrogant Price under-reported the worth of his investment in his nomination filings. He claimed it was a "clerical error."

Last Thursday, as the stories unfolded about his lavish thirst for charter flights on our tab, he offered to pay for his seat on those planes — an amount he said was nearly $52,000.

Apparently he thinks Americans are such rubes that we'll forget or fail to understand that the cost of those planes in the air were incurred not because Price sat in one seat on them, but because he chartered them as though they were his own private jets.

Drain the swamp, indeed.

But we'll have to start with the chief crocodile — Trump himself.

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