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    Friday, January 27, 2023

    The presidential steal

    This appeared in the New York Daily News.

    In the vortex of corruption, malfeasance, incompetence, nepotism and self-dealing that were the Trump years, it can be a legitimate challenge to even try to remember the various scandals off the top of one’s head. Ultimately, most were overshadowed by the gravest of all the misdeeds — the former president’s attempt to subvert democracy and nullify his 2020 defeat through pressure, litigation and violence — yet all are still worth documenting, if only to have as full a possible evidentiary record of Trump’s unfitness for leadership.

    So we commend the House Oversight Committee, chaired by New York’s own outgoing Rep. Carolyn Maloney, for doggedly pursuing one of the many instances of clear graft engineered by Trump and his ilk: the Secret Service’s lavish spending on the family’s own business interests, particularly stays at Trump-owned hotels. The digging must continue after Maloney’s retired.

    In a letter to the Secret Service requesting more information, Maloney summarizes documents obtained by the committee showing that the agency spent at least $1.4 million over 669 expenditures at Trump properties between his taking office and Sept. 15, 2021 — months after his failed coup, with agents continuing to stay at Trump hotels to protect the former president

    The records, which show extravagant spends like a $1,160-a-night rate for a stay at the Trump International Hotel in Washington in March 2017, are incomplete, meaning the real amounts are likely significantly higher. Not only did the taxpayer shovel money to the Trumps’ private business, the family lied about it like they’ve lied about everything else, with Eric Trump once claiming that the Secret Service was being charged “like $50″ per room.

    Though what would have been a significant scandal for any other leader is just one of the pantheon of offenses, it is indicative of the way in which the Trump family viewed the highest office in the land: not as the ultimate opportunity to perform public service, but as a chance to make boost a brand and line personal pockets.

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