Rantt Rundown: Trump First, America Last

President Donald Trump shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a dinner at Mar-a-Lago — Thursday, April 6, 2017, in Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Rantt Rundown: Trump First, America Last

Day 481 of the Trump presidency

On Sunday, Donald Trump, the self-proclaimed MAGA/America First President, sent out a tweet that took many by surprise. Trump signaled that he was going to help Chinese tech company ZTE “get back in business.” Yes, that’s the same company who was banned from doing business in the US for violating sanctions and the NSA, FBI, and CIA believes tried to use their technology to spy on American consumers.

It was a mystery to many, but recent revelations reveal more about what may be one of the factors driving his decision…

HuffPost reported:

A mere 72 hours after the Chinese government agreed to put a half-billion dollars into an Indonesian project that will personally enrich Donald Trump, the president ordered a bailout for a Chinese-government-owned cellphone maker.

“President Xi of China, and I, are working together to give massive Chinese phone company, ZTE, a way to get back into business, fast,” Trump announced on Twitter Sunday morning. “Too many jobs in China lost. Commerce Department has been instructed to get it done!”

Trump did not mention in that tweet or its follow-ups that on Thursday, the developer of a theme park resort outside of Jakarta had signed a deal to receive as much as $500 million in Chinese government loans, as well as another $500 million from Chinese banks, according to Agence France-Presse. Trump’s family business, the Trump Organization, has a deal to license the Trump name to the resort, which includes a golf course and hotels.

As Heather Long of The Washington Post notes, this was an odd move, even if you try and rationalize it in the context of trade negotiations and upcoming North Korea talks, all it does is give China unnecessary leverage. This raises the question of whether or not these loans influenced President Trump’s decision-making. If that’s the case, this fits a pattern.

The Trump presidency is plagued with unethical behavior of this nature, sparking numerous lawsuits and condemnation from ethics watchdogs.

What makes these moves so concerning is the foreign emoluments clause of the constitution, which prohibits gifts from foreign nations. The Founding Fathers foresaw a scenario where a President’s business interests might influence the manner in which they conduct foreign policy. Which is why past Presidents have placed their businesses in blind trusts so that they would not be swayed by their business entanglements. Even Jimmy Carter placed his peanut farm in a blind trust. Trump did not.

Despite calls for President Trump, a self-proclaimed billionaire, to place his business interests in a blind trust, Trump decided to place his interest in a trust that is run by his sons. Worse yet, the trust allows for President Trump to tap into profits whenever he sees fit and he’s still reportedly received regular updates on the performance of the Trump Organization. Long story short: Donald Trump has been able to profit from his actions as President of the United States.

If only we had a functioning Congress with Republican lawmakers willing to hold hearings on this unprecedented corruption.

In the meantime, keep an eye on this:


  • After Michael Avenatti teased news about Michael Cohen, CNN reported that Qatari investor attended meetings at Trump Tower on December 12, 2016, including one with Michael Cohen. Then,The Daily Mail reported this:

Donald Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, is facing claims he asked a Middle Eastern official for millions of dollars to give to ‘Trump family members’ in a meeting at Trump Tower weeks after the president’s election victory, DailyMail.com can reveal.

Cohen is alleged to have asked Ahmed Al-Rumaihi, a former diplomat in charge of a $100bn Qatari investment fund, to send ‘millions’ through him to Trump family members. A source told DailyMail.com that the Qatari said he refused.

  • North Korea threatened to call off Kim Jong Un’s summit with President Trump over joint military drills with the US and South Korea. And then, came this:

They went on to say they reject a “Libya-style denuclearization.” That was in response to National Security Adviser John Bolton’s rhetoric, which said the administration was going for the “Libya model” with North Korea. Libya’s dictator ended up murdered by his own people.

  • The Trump administration is preparing to implement an inhumane immigration policy. The Washington Post reported:

The Trump administration is making preparations to hold immigrant children on military bases, according to Defense Department communications, the latest sign the government is moving forward with plans to split up families who cross the border illegally.

According to an email notification sent to Pentagon staffers, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will make site visits at four military installations in Texas and Arkansas during the next two weeks to evaluate their suitability to shelter children.

The bases would be used for minors under 18 who arrive at the border without an adult relative or after the government has separated them from their parents. HHS is the government agency responsible for providing minors with foster care until another adult relative can assume custody.

  • After CIA nominee Gina Haspel sent a letter to Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) stating that she believes “the enhanced interrogation program is not one the CIA should have undertaken,” Warner backed her nomination. Alabama Senator Doug Jones (D) on the other hand, is a no.
  • The cybersecurity role that John Bolton was trying to eliminate last week was eliminated. Politico reported:

The Trump administration has eliminated the White House’s top cyber policy role, jettisoning a key position created during the Obama presidency to harmonize the government’s overall approach to cybersecurity policy and digital warfare.

  • The White House tried to blame the deaths of over 50 Palestinians on propaganda. HuffPost reported:

Britain, France and Germany have all called for Israel to exercise restraint after Monday’s bloodshed near the Gaza border. But the Trump administration has declined to hold Israel accountable for the violence, saying that the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas was to blame.

“The responsibility for these tragic deaths rests squarely with Hamas,” White House spokesman Raj Shah told reporters at a press briefing on Monday, referring to the 58 Palestinians who were killed by Israeli forces.

“Hamas is intentionally and cynically provoking this response,” Shah added, suggesting the clashes were “a gruesome and unfortunate propaganda attempt” orchestrated by Hamas’ leaders.

Rundown // Donald Trump / Politics / World