President Donald Trump has demonstrated over the past month how much higher of a value he places on the stock market and his poll numbers than on the lives of his fellow Americans. In fact, his entire presidency has provided example after example of his own financial enrichment and political interests superseding the public good and the U.S. Constitution.
So when Trump blithely declared on Monday evening, “I’ll be the oversight” on half a trillion dollars in stimulus funding, American Oversight has this to say:
Trump’s statement came during a White House press conference, in response to a question about who would oversee the unrestricted distribution of the Republican-backed relief package under consideration in the Senate. At the same press conference, the president also suggested that the economic impact of social distancing measures would result in more deaths than Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
That Trump’s consideration of ending lockdowns comes after his own business — of which he has never financially divested — began seeing the economic effects is just one reason not to trust him to oversee the $500 billion “slush fund” for corporations. His consistent downplaying of the coronavirus outbreak has illustrated clearly that his priorities are questionable at best.
“Donald Trump cannot be trusted with a blank check,” said American Oversight Executive Director Austin Evers. “At no point during this crisis has the president demonstrated, through act or honesty, that he has what it takes to put the public interest above his own efforts to juice headlines and the stock market in his favor. Putting Donald Trump in charge of oversight is like hiring Jesse James for stagecoach security.”
Meanwhile, this morning’s news brought another reminder that the Trump administration, which already had a seemingly loose grasp on the importance of constitutional norms and checks and balances, appears willing to further erode constitutional protections under the cover of a national emergency. Rep. Mark Meadows, the newly tapped interim White House chief of staff, was seen entering Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office in what the Washington Post’s Paul Kane said was his first trip to Congress as chief of staff — an action unconstitutional so long as he continues to hold his House seat.
A backlash erupted over this report, leading Meadows to clarify this afternoon to Lisa Desjardins of PBS NewsHour that he was not yet chief of staff and that he was still a “member of Congress” but would resign later this month.
Article I of the Constitution states, “No Senator or Representative shall, during the time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil office under the authority of the United States” — and we’ll be watching closely to see if Meadows keeps his word.
But that is why organizations like American Oversight exist, and is why we will continue fighting corruption, revealing misconduct and demanding accountability. We’ve already filed more than 100 public records requests to find out more about the harmful coronavirus testing delays and corporate lobbying, as well as about whether officials have been honest with the public.
Moreover, as the president contemplates calling for an end to social distancing in a bid for a short-term poll bump, and as he and his supporters make callous calculations regarding human life and the stock market, it’s clearer than ever that he and many of his allies and administration officials should not be in a position to determine the value of anything, including federal aid.
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