Cohen’s $600,000 from AT&T illustrates just what a joke it was when Trump promised to “drain the swamp”

Trump ran for president as a populist reformer. He told people that he was going to “drain the swamp” of Washington, D.C., and restore the government to the people of America. In October of 2016, right before the election, Donald Trump told a campaign rally in Wisconsin, “It is time to drain the swamp in Washington, D.C. This is why I’m proposing a package of ethics reforms to make our government honest once again.” Those ethics reforms, of course, never came. Instead, when Trump came to power, he appointed an army of lobbyists, investment bankers and the like, and handed the legislative function of the executive branch off to Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnel, who immediately set out to take health care from millions of Americans and transfer over $1 trillion in wealth to America’s super-rich by way of tax cuts. In spite of all of this evidence to the contrary, though, some still see Trump as a populist reformer… not because of anything he’s done, of course, but because he continues to talk of “transferring power from Washington, D.C., and giving it back to you, the people.”

It doesn’t stand up to reason, though…. Take, for example, the case of casino mogul Sheldon Adelson. After receiving a $670 million income tax windfall thanks to the GOP tax cut, the Republican donor, as a sign of gratitude, turned around and cut a $30 million check to help Republicans hold onto Congress in the upcoming midterm elections. Not exactly what you’d expect from a party run by a populist who promised to “drain the swamp,” is it?

Or take the case of AT&T, one of the companies that we know attempted to buy favor with the incoming president. AT&T, as you might recall, was attempting to pull off a merger with Time Warner as Trump was coming into office. And Donald Trump, on the campaign trail, had said that he thought the Department of Justice should kill the deal. [Trump, as we all know, hates CNN, which is a Time Warner company.] Well, in hopes of salvaging the $85 billion deal, AT&T, it would appear, agreed to pay Trump fixer, Michael Cohen, $600,000.

While we still don’t know the extent to which Trump was involved in the negotiations, or what might have been promised in return for the $600,000, we know that the money was wired to the same “Essential Consultants” account from which Stormy Daniels, the President’s porn star mistress, was paid her hush money from. [Personally, I can’t image a scenario where Trump didn’t get a cut of the money that Cohen was bringing in by reaching out to companies with business before the federal government and promising access, but I guess we’ll have to wait until the Cooley Law grad flips on Trump and testifies to know for sure.]

For what it’s worth, the AT&T merger still hasn’t happened. And, this, according to Trump White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders, is “evidence that Trump is draining the swamp.” The implication, of course, is that if Trump hadn’t drained the swamp, he would have made good on the deal after taking the $600,000 pay-off… Here’s Sanders explaining it.

And Sanders wasn’t the only one make this case… holding up as evidence the fact that the merger has yet to go through, to prove that Donald Trump is not corrupt. Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani told the Huffington Post last night, “He did drain the swamp… The president denied the merger. They didn’t get the result they wanted.”

Of course, if Giuliani is right, and Trump himself “denied the merger,” this would also be a violation of the law, as the President isn’t supposed to interfere with Department of Justice investigations.

And, so, today, we saw the White House having to walk back the “Trump couldn’t be corrupt, because, after taking their money, he killed the deal” defense…. “The Department of Justice (not the President) denied the deal,” Sanders told reporters this morning.

For what it’s worth, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson issued a statement yesterday calling the payment to Cohen “a big mistake.” Oh, and here’s the best part, according to recent reporting, Mueller has known about all of this for over six months now. God only knows how many other companies he’s aware of that were asked to pay tribute.

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3 Comments

  1. From the internets
    Posted May 12, 2018 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

    Micahel Avenatti to NBC:

    “Individuals & companies are finally coming to the realization that much more info is going to come to light regarding their dealings with Mr. Cohen and Mr. Trump. They are nervous and should be.”

  2. Anonymous
    Posted May 13, 2018 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    There is no easier way to gauge someone’s intelligence than to ask “Is Trump draining the swamp?”

  3. Lynne
    Posted May 13, 2018 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    Seems like the net is closing in.

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