This month, the 17th fell on a Wednesday, not a Friday [bad luck in Italy], but it was still a very bad week for Trump: two “progressive” Supreme Court rulings, including one on the children of immigrants, the Dreamers, whom Trump wanted to deport, and the publishing of an explosive book that his administration is trying to block because it lays bare the structural corruption of this presidency.
Let’s start with the Supreme Court ruling on DACA, the program created in 2012 by President Barack Obama.
Obama set it up as a provisional measure to protect from deportation those who had arrived in the United States as children and did not have citizenship or legal residence because their parents were illegal immigrants. The Supreme Court ruled by a 5-4 majority that the way the Trump administration had tried to end the program was inadmissible, without going into the merits of the program itself.
As regards Bolton’s book, which everyone is talking about, one might observe that from now on, it looks like one of the precepts of American journalism—the search for the scoop, the exclusive news story—will be replaced by the search for old news, to be resurrected, recycled, cast in a different light.
For example, this is how Thursday’s edition of The New York Times began its front-page article: “John R. Bolton, the former national security adviser, plans to publish a damning book next week depicting President Trump as a corrupt, poorly informed, reckless leader who used the power of his office to advance his own personal and political needs even ahead of the nation’s interests.”
Is any of that “news”? Anyone who had simply read the Wikipedia page on Donald Trump in 2015 could have learned that he had refused to disclose his tax returns and that his entire career as a businessman was dotted with deals with shady characters, intimidation, real estate speculation and outright scams, such as the famous “Trump University,” which he was later forced to shut down and reimburse the naive people who had signed up.
And not only Bolton, but everyone in Washington knew that after taking office, Trump had refused to divest himself of his personal assets, as the law obliged him to do, instead continuing to exploit his hotels, golf clubs and other properties to double his income at the expense of friendly governments or lobbies, as well as the U.S. taxpayers. From January 2017 to date, Trump has made 470 trips to his properties around the United States, including 272 to his golf courses, accompanied by the agents tasked with his protection.
And because his bodyguards have to be close to him, the Trump Organization is billing their rooms to the government: for example, $650 a night for each Secret Service agent who follows him to Mar-a-Lago, or $17,000 a month for a cottage at the Trump Golf Club Bedminster. The bill for these kinds of trips alone is so far in the region of $100 million.
Of course, the Republican Party and old politicians like Bolton knew exactly who they were dealing with, but that didn’t stop them from supporting Trump and defending the indefensible in order to get their hands on power in the White House, although in this case it would perhaps be more accurate to say “get their hands in the cookie jar.” Bolton served as National Security Advisor for 17 months, threatening war with Iran and North Korea practically every day, only to discover that Trump actually liked dictators and was truly convinced that he could persuade Kim Jong-Un not only to give up his nuclear weapons, but to convert to the American way of life.
After discovering that reality was quite different, Bolton resigned, but refused to testify before the House when the impeachment procedures were initiated against the president for his abuse of power in blackmailing Ukraine in order to slander Democratic candidate Joe Biden. When Trump’s trial began in front of the Senate, the Republican majority voted to not hear from Bolton, as well as all potential witnesses who could confirm the charges.
Nowadays, Bolton, in his book, highlights Trump’s willingness to intervene in the Justice Department’s investigations against foreign companies to do “personal favors to dictators he liked,” as if Trump’s sympathy for Putin or Erdogan was a mystery to anyone. In fact, obstruction of justice through maneuvers by lawyers even more cynical and corrupt than him has been a way of life for Trump, first in business and then in politics. Bolton claims that Trump begged Xi Jinping to help him get re-elected by increasing China’s purchases of agricultural products, which would have favored the president in the Midwest states, and Trump himself did not deny this when asked on Wednesday night by Fox News.
But there would hardly be any point in denying: the Trump administration is flooding Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Wisconsin and other Republican-ruled states with cash, turning COVID-19-related subsidies into weapons to secure a second term. However, the news is not encouraging for Trump on this front: all the recent polls give Biden an advantage of about 8 percentage points nationally, but most importantly, they put him in a good position in the most highly-fought-over states between Republicans and Democrats, such as Ohio, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Florida, which will be decisive for the final result of the elections due to their importance in the electoral college.