Trump’s scam char­ity not help­ing his ‘I’m not cor­rupt’ de­fense

Chicago Tribune (Sunday) - - CHICAGOLAN­D - Rex W. Hup­pke

An im­peach­ment-wary Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump wails that he’s not cor­rupt, a judge fines Trump $2 mil­lion for run­ning a char­ity that was def­i­nitely cor­rupt and a racist per­son dic­tates seat­ing at a Buf­falo

Wild Wings? Just an­other week in Amer­ica 2019, one that again has me gasp­ing for breath and ask­ing: “What the (BLEEP) just hap­pened?”

Trump fined $2 mil­lion for run­ning su­per-sleazy char­ity: When you’re bat­tling im­peach­ment­wor­thy charges that you used the of­fice of the pres­i­dency for po­lit­i­cal gain, it’s prob­a­bly not great to have a judge fine you $2 mil­lion and con­firm that you used your for­mer char­i­ta­ble or­ga­ni­za­tion for po­lit­i­cal gain.

But this is Don­ald Trump we’re tak­ing about, so of course that’s what hap­pened. On Thurs­day, a New York state judge re­solved a law­suit that al­leged Trump used his char­i­ta­ble foun­da­tion for po­lit­i­cal and busi­ness pur­poses by or­der­ing Trump to pay $2 mil­lion to sev­eral char­i­ties.

Judge Saliann Scarpulla ruled that Trump “breached his fidu­ciary duty” to the Trump Foun­da­tion when he let staff from his pres­i­den­tial cam­paign plan a fundraiser for veter­ans’ char­i­ties in 2016. She wrote that “the Fundraiser and dis­tri­bu­tion of the Funds” were used “to fur­ther Mr. Trump’s po­lit­i­cal cam­paign.”

Hey, no big­gie, just an al­leged bil­lion­aire us­ing a fundraiser for veter­ans to ben­e­fit him­self po­lit­i­cally. There’s no way this guy could be cor­rupt, right?

Trump clucks like a chicken while im­peach­ment marches on: Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump main­tained his tra­di­tion­ally calm and ra­tio­nal de­meanor last week as the con­gres­sional im­peach­ment in­quiry moved. … I’m kid­ding, the pres­i­dent seemed more unglued than ever, rant­ing at ral­lies, tweet­ing like there’s no to­mor­row and gen­er­ally act­ing as in­no­cent as a dog with a mouth­ful of ham­burger.

House com­mit­tees in­volved in the im­peach­ment in­quiry re­leased tes­ti­mony from closed-door de­po­si­tions, giv­ing Repub­li­cans the trans­parency they had de­manded and im­me­di­ately mak­ing them wish they had de­manded a bit less trans­parency.

The un­der-oath tes­ti­mony from sev­eral Trumpap­pointed fig­ures painted a clear pic­ture that the ad­min­is­tra­tion held up con­gres­sion­ally ap­proved mil­i­tary aid to pres­sure Ukrainian of­fi­cials to in­ves­ti­gate a de­bunked con­spir­acy the­ory about 2016 elec­tion in­ter­fer­ence and equally de­bunked cor­rup­tion claims against for­mer Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den and his son.

Mak­ing mat­ters worse for the pres­i­dent, the im­peach­ment in­quiry will move into pub­lic hear­ings this week, giv­ing Amer­i­cans a chance to watch tes­ti­mony live on tele­vi­sion.

Trump and his as­sorted min­ions in the right wing me­dia fell back on at­tack­ing the whistle­blower, who, given the hun­dreds of pages of tes­ti­mony al­ready on record, is as ir­rel­e­vant to this case as facts are to Fox News view­ers.

I’ll wrap this seg­ment up with a fun mem­ory: Back in 2006, when Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence was a U.S. con­gress­man, he said on the House floor, “With­out the as­sur­ance of con­fi­den­tial­ity, many whistle­blow­ers will sim­ply refuse to come for­ward.”

I guess things change when you have your dig­nity sur­gi­cally re­moved.

Illi­nois Repub­li­cans pro­pose ethics rules, Democrats Google ‘ethics’: Speak­ing of wide­spread cor­rup­tion, the few Illi­nois Democrats not presently un­der fed­eral in­ves­ti­ga­tion might want to con­sider some changes to state ethics rules be­ing pro­posed by Repub­li­can state law­mak­ers.

While clearly try­ing to cap­i­tal­ize on the widerang­ing pub­lic cor­rup­tion in­ves­ti­ga­tion tar­get­ing Democrats like Sen. Thomas Culler­ton, Sen. Martin San­doval and ex-Rep. Luis Ar­royo, it’s tough to ar­gue that the Repub­li­can-led push for greater trans­parency is any­thing but a sound idea.

Per a Tri­bune re­port: “The pro­pos­als from House Repub­li­cans in­clude re­quir­ing law­mak­ers to pro­vide more de­tailed in­for­ma­tion about their fi­nan­cial in­ter­ests on an­nual state­ments of eco­nomic in­ter­est; in­sti­tut­ing spe­cial elec­tions to fill va­cant seats in the House and Se­nate; loos­en­ing the con­trol House com­mit­tee chairs have over the fate of bills; and bar­ring law­mak­ers and close fam­ily mem­bers from work­ing as lob­by­ists at the lo­cal level.”

The leg­is­la­ture will al­most cer­tainly ad­journ for the year with­out tak­ing these rec­om­men­da­tions up. But House Repub­li­can leader Jim Durkin noted: “If the Democrats are se­ri­ous about at least try­ing to re­store some con­fi­dence in the pub­lic, we shouldn’t have to wait till next Jan­uary, next spring.”

He’s right. This seem like a no-brainer. Un­less, per­haps, Illi­nois Democrats are all tied up spray­ing fed­eral-agent re­pel­lent out­side their of­fice doors.

Buf­falo Wild Wings re­moves ‘ac­com­mo­dat­ing racists’ from the menu: Prov­ing once again that racism and stu­pid­ity are alive and well in Amer­ica, a Buf­falo Wild Wings res­tau­rant in Naperville found it­self at the cen­ter of a na­tional story after a racist diner asked that a party of 18 be moved to dif­fer­ent ta­bles be­cause he didn’t want to sit near black peo­ple.

Res­tau­rant em­ploy­ees tried to move the fam­ily, to which the fam­ily rightly said, and I’m para­phras­ing: “Nope. We’re out of here.”

Com­pany of­fi­cials ex­pressed an ap­pro­pri­ate level of hor­ror over what hap­pened, fired the em­ploy­ees who tried to ac­com­mo­date the racist and seem to be lis­ten­ing to the fam­ily mem­bers’ sug­ges­tions of steps they can take to make sure some­thing like this never hap­pens again.

Re­gard­ing the racist and oth­ers like him out there, my col­league Dahleen Glan­ton put it best: “The most we can do is let them know that we are as in­tol­er­ant of them as they are of other peo­ple.”

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