So far, there’s no good rea­son to give Trump ben­e­fit of doubt

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - - VIEWS & VOICES - MCFEATTERS ——— Scripps Howard colum­nist Ann McFeatters has cov­ered the White House and na­tional pol­i­tics since 1986. ——— Cre­ators’ Syn­di­cate colum­nist Froma Har­rop moves to Mon­day’s pa­per. Washington Post colum­nist Kath­leen Parker will ap­pear here next

Wel­come to the United States of Trump, LLC. Some ap­plaud Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump’s boast at his press con­fer­ence Wed­nes­day that he was of­fered $2 bil­lion from a “very, very, very amaz­ing man” in Dubai just last week­end and turned it down when he didn’t have to.

Oops! Yes, he did. The emol­u­ments clause of the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion says the pres­i­dent may not profit from for­eign­ers be­cause of his job.

But, look, you say, Trump has given up con­trol of his huge busi­ness, a re­ally, re­ally great busi­ness, where his name is its most valu­able at­tribute, by putting it all into a trust he won’t touch. He will only know what’s hap­pen­ing by read­ing about it in the news­pa­pers.

Nope. He has given his two adult sons, Don­ald Jr. and Eric, and an ethics of­fi­cer, paid by the Trumps, com­plete con­trol. Af­ter his eight years in of­fice (he as­sumes he will be re-elected), if they haven’t done a good job, he will tell them they are fired when he re­as­sumes con­trol of the busi­ness.

He will not sell his com­pany. He is not putting it in a blind trust. It will con­tinue to do deals do­mes­ti­cally. He will know whether his ac­tions as pres­i­dent will ben­e­fit the busi­ness he in­tends to run when he leaves of­fice.

Do we know the ex­tent of his busi­ness? We do not. Be­cause he re­fuses to re­lease his tax re­turns, we have no idea of his deal­ings, at home or abroad, or how much he is worth. ANN

Tech­ni­cally, he is cor­rect that he doesn’t have to avoid do­mes­tic con­flicts of in­ter­est. But why, if he truly cares about the Amer­i­can peo­ple, is he putting him­self in a po­si­tion that con­stantly will show­case such con­flicts? He says such free­dom (to have con­flicts) “is a nice thing.”

At Trump’s first news con­fer­ence in 166 days, it was all about Trump. He dodged a lot of ques­tions. He boasted. He in­sisted in­tel­li­gence re­ports that Rus­sia has black­mail-qual­ity in­for­ma­tion about his fi­nan­cial and per­sonal be­hav­ior are rem­i­nis­cent of Nazi Ger­many. But he fi­nally gave re­luc­tant cre­dence to the in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity’s in­sis­tence that Rus­sia tried to in­flu­ence the U.S. elec­tion by dis­tribut­ing in­for­ma­tion hacked from U.S. com­put­ers.

Does the in­com­ing pres­i­dent trust the na­tion’s in­tel­li­gence agen­cies? No. He has spent the time since the elec­tion dis­parag­ing and un­der­min­ing the na­tion’s in­tel­li­gence-gath­er­ing ap­pa­ra­tus.

Look, you say, give the man a chance so we can see what he can do.

We have some idea. He vows to re­peal the health care in­sur­ance law that has pro­vided cov­er­age to more than 20 mil­lion Amer­i­cans but still has no plan to re­place it.

He tem­po­rar­ily saved 730 Car­rier jobs in In­di­ana by giv­ing the com­pany tax­payer dol­lars.

He has nom­i­nated to be sec­re­tary of state a big-oil man who is friends with Vladimir Putin, a dic­ta­tor who in­vaded Ukraine, an­nexed Crimea, or­dered the mur­ders of thou­sands of Syr­ian women and chil­dren, and kills po­lit­i­cal op­po­nents and jour­nal­ists who dare to re­port his atroc­i­ties.

He has nom­i­nated as at­tor­ney gen­eral a man who was turned down by the Se­nate to be a fed­eral judge on grounds he was too racist, a man who tried to put peo­ple in jail for al­leged vi­o­la­tions of vot­ing laws the courts said were non­sense, a man who wants to fill the pris­ons with peo­ple ad­dicted to drugs, a man who wants to de­port im­mi­grant fam­i­lies here for years, a man who op­poses key as­pects of vot­ing rights laws and le­gal rights for LGBT Amer­i­cans, a man who is be­ing re­warded for his loy­alty in be­ing the first (and, for months, only) sen­a­tor to en­dorse Trump.

He has nom­i­nated a woman to run the Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion who wants to gut pub­lic schools and pri­va­tize ed­u­ca­tion, turn­ing it over to profit-mak­ing com­pa­nies.

Trump likes peo­ple who flat­ter and ad­mire him. He does not re­spect kind­ness or truth. He re­spects the power of money and pow­er­ful peo­ple. He re­fuses to act with dig­nity and im­par­tial­ity. Now he will have the full power and might of the United States at his beck and call.

Wel­come to a re­al­ity TV show era of scan­dals, con­tro­versy and law­suits over ethics. Wel­come to a coun­try that acts like a cor­po­ra­tion ben­e­fit­ting most those who run it.

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