Trump, The “Outsider,” Already Seems Pretty Comfortable With Washington’s Insiders
President-elect Donald Trump seemed to voice his support for the Democratic Party’s newly elected Senate leader Chuck Schumer on Monday. In a tweet that was also an excuse to take a parting shot at outgoing Democratic Senate leader Harry Reid, Trump claimed that he and Schumer “have always had a good relationship.”
I have always had a good relationship with Chuck Schumer. He is far smarter than Harry R and has the ability to get things done. Good news!
In fact, Trump has had more than a good relationship with Schumer. Between 1996 and 2010, Trump donated approximately $9,000 to Schumer’s electoral campaigns. Three of Donald Trump’s children — Eric, Donald Jr., and Ivanka — also donated to Schumer. As did Ivanka’s husband and Trump’s trusted advisor Jared Kushner. According to Federal Election Commission filings reported on by Allan Smith of Business Insider, the Trump clan gave Schumer a combined total of $19,800.
During the campaign, Donald Trump promised to “drain the swamp” and “reduce the corrupting influence of special interests” in Washington. The Trump family’s history of financially supporting Schumer combined with Donald Trump’s positive reaction to Schumer election as Senate minority leader is yet another sign that Trump is not serious about cleaning-up Washington.
Far from being an anti-corporate reformer, Chuck Schumer is essentially a caricature of the liberal, corporate career politician Donald Trump campaigned against. As Jon Schwarz outlined in The Intercept, he is an unabashedly pro-Wall Street official who receives more money (most of it from the financial industry) than any other Democrat in Congress and has devoted years there slashing corporate tax rates. He voted to repeal the Glass-Steagall Act — which is widely believed to have contributed to the 2008 financial crash — and then voted to bail-out the big banks after the crash.
Schumer also voted for the Iraq War. Like with Mike Pence’s support of the war, this apparently has not diminished Trump’s view of Schumer — despite implying throughout the election that Hillary Clinton’s support for the same war disqualified her from office.
This is all part of a pattern that has been emerging since Trump’s win. Beyond the truly disturbing and justifiably headline-taking stories of a white nationalist conspiracy theory propagandist in the White House and a man too racist for 1980s Republicans in the attorney general’s office, a picture of an almost typical corporate lobbyist-filled Republican administration is emerging.
Almost typical because the potential extremism of Trump’s administration should not be underestimated. There is nothing typical about Trump appointing Steve Bannon, a leader of the misogynistic, white supremacy-fueled “alt-right” who allegedly calls himself a “Leninist,” for example. Regardless of what policies President Trump will peruse, his divisive fear-mongering and scapegoating have already made the United States a dangerous and scary place for many marginalized people. Since Trump’s election win, there has reportedly been a surge in “hateful intimidation and harassment” and a neo-Nazi group staged a pro-Trump event in Washington where they used the Hitler salute and literally shouted “Hail Trump!”
Nevertheless, Trump’s transition team is, for the most part, filled with the ghosts of Republican administrations past. The team includes a mixture of corporate lobbyists, climate deniers, conservative activists, and former officials from the George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, and Ronald Reagan administrations. Andrew Bremberg, who previously advised both Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and the poster-boy of the GOP establishment Mitch McConnell, is also on the team. With this basket of corporate and political insiders behind the scenes, Mike Pence as vice president, and GOP chairman Reince Priebus as White House chief of staff, the Trump administration is shaping-up to be a dangerously extremist yet recognizably Republican administration.
As Paul Ryan, Republican House leader and so-called party “moderate,” cheerfully proclaimed, “ Welcome to the dawn of a new unified Republican government.” A government that, judging by the people Trump is surrounding himself with, will only escalate the corporate takeover of the United States— and will be quick to scapegoat when its policies inevitably hurt even the people who voted for it.