Monday, May 8, 2017

The oily crust of corruption

Will the Trump White House end up as the most corrupt in history? Check this out:
You’ve probably heard that the Kushner family was caught over the weekend literally selling visas to immigrate to the United States in exchange for funding a $150 million dollar New Jersey real estate project. [See this article.] The sale itself is actually legal. It’s part of a highly controversial and widely abused program which provides visas to foreign nationals in exchange for $500,000 investments in US projects which by certain standards are judged to create jobs in impoverished or economically distressed parts of the United States. It’s become a widely abused vehicle for real estate developers looking to fund luxury development projects.

Setting that controversy aside, what sets this apart of course is that Jared Kushner is the most senior advisor to the President of the United States, as well as being the President’s son-in-law. While nominally stepping aside from his family business, his family is in China openly trading on the Kushner family’s ties to President Trump to rake up money. As much and as quickly as possible. Kushner’s sister Nicole actually led the presentation. Reporters from the Times and the Post were on hand at the presentation in Beijing (where they were able to get in) and at a second in Shanghai (where they weren’t.)

Trump – as well as the Kushner family’s connection to him – was explicitly invoked as the “key decision maker” in getting the visas. A Times reporter posted this picture of the presentation to Twitter, which I’ve marked up to identify the people in the slide …

This is, needless to say, the most open and flagrant kind of monetizing of the Presidency – as bad as anyone could have imagined from the conjoined Trump/Kushner families. The fact that this ‘nationalist’, ‘crack down on illegal immigration’ White House is connected to cash for visas activities like this just adds a layer of oily crust to the corruption.

The article goes on to point out that reporters only happened upon this event (and weren't allowed into the Shanghai presentation at all). As it notes, "We see hints and shreds of evidence popping up – Ivanka Trump securing numerous trademarks for her company in China," but we are highly unlikely to have seen it all.

The Trump/Kushner families do seem to be cashing in on the Donald Trump presidency, don't they? But then, he is, himself. As he's been doing since the start of the campaign.

And speaking of corruption, here's an article about scientists being removed from the Environmental Protection Agency to make room for lobbyists industry representatives. I'm sure those industries will be very grateful to the Republican Party when it comes to campaign donations, don't you think? Even secret campaign donations? (And thanks to the Republicans on our Supreme Court, that's even legal these days.)

No comments: