Morning Joe: Trump Administration Most Corrupt Since Harding

On Monday, Politico ran a story alleging that Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao had steered DOT grants to Kentucky to benefit her husband, Kentucky Senator and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Her office fired back, saying that the projects went through the normal protocol and that they were “selectively isolated to misrepresent the work DOT does across the country.”

For MSNBC, this was apparently the biggest scandal since Teapot Dome. On a Tuesday segment of Morning Joe, Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson made the wildly a historical and factually inaccurate claims that the Trump administration is the most corrupt since that of President Harding and that the Obama administration was “the cleanest we had seen in a long time”:

 

 

Yeah, I mean, I think you have to go back to the Harding Administration at least to find this level of corruption. I mean let’s call it what it is, it is, to me, this is corruption. And Elaine Chao is not the only example. You just kind of work your way through that swamp creature cabinet of Donald Trump's and then down in the agencies and you just see the most amazing sort of self-dealing and self-enrichment. That’s what he’s brought to Washington. That’s what he’s augmented. After, you know, he follows perhaps the cleanest administration, I should note, that we’ve seen in a long time. Remember in the Obama years, nobody got indicted, nobody got arrested, nobody got convicted. And here we are in what just is a cesspool. It is breathtaking. But, again, that is who Donald Trump is.

If you’re like Eugene Robinson and don’t know much about history, President Warren G. Harding (1921-1923) led one of the most corrupt administrations in American history.

In addition to his extramarital affairs, his Attorney General Harry Daugherty accepted bribes not to prosecute certain cases, his Veterans Bureau Director Charles Forbes was sent to prison for conspiracy to defraud the government, and, most famously, his Interior Secretary Albert Fall became the first cabinet official to ever be convicted of a felony for taking half a million dollars from private business in exchange for leases to government oil reserves at Teapot Dome. Out of these scandals came legislation that gave the House and Senate subpoena power over tax records of any American citizen.

President Obama also did not have the “cleanest administration we’ve seen in a long time.” His administration was rife with scandal from Benghazi, to Fast and Furious where he used executive privilege to shield AG Eric Holder from testifying, to the NSA Spying Scandal where DNI James Clapper committed perjury before Congress, to the VA scandal, to his use of the IRS to target conservative 501c3s, to his use of the DOJ to spy on the Associated Press and then-Fox News D.C. Correspondent James Rosen. Obama administration officials are still causing scandals by meeting with Iranian leaders about American foreign policy.

Even if the allegations against Secretary Chao are true that she used her position at DOT to help her husband’s re-election campaign, Eugene Robinson’s claims are still completely off-based.

The full transcript is below. Click “expand” to read more.

MSNBC's Morning Joe

06/11/19

6:51 a.m. Eastern

NICK CONFESSORE: Well, Joe, DOT is saying that the grants all followed procedure so the real key question in that story which we have to dig into more is if the applications were approved according to regular process, if there was merit to them, how come they were pushed back before but approved afterwards. It does show that it’s helpful to have a friend in a high place for this kind of spending. I’m curious what the political impact will be back home for Senator McConnell. Obviously it’s not a terrible thing to be seen in your state for bringing home the bacon. It’s a bit of the way politics has worked in Washington for a long time, just not so much in the Tea Party era. I think a second story you should focus on is an expose last week in my paper the New York Times which showed that the Chao family shipping company has benefited from policies that Chao has pushed as—Secretary of Transportation. She is essentially pulled back and downgraded some programs to support American shipping, which has been the benefit for her family's company, which has close ties to China. That one it seems to me strikes more directly at some inconsistencies between the administration’s tough stance on China and the policies that are actually happening under the hood.

JOE SCARBOROUGH: Well and of course, Gene Robinson, the hypocrisy is breathtaking. You can look at Elaine Chao. You can go back to former members the Trump Administration. You can look at current members of the Trump Administration. You can look at waivers and licenses that China has given to Ivanka Trump and her business at certain times. This is without a doubt the swampiest of swampy administrations in modern American history. And as far as Mitch McConnell goes, by the way, just for the record, he is the least popular Senator in his home state of any Senator in the United States Senate.

EUGENE ROBINSON: Yeah, I mean, I think you have to go back to the Harding Administration at least to find this level of corruption. I mean let’s call it what it is, it is, to me, this is corruption. And Elaine Chao is not the only example. You just kind of work your way through that swamp creature cabinet of Donald Trump's and then down in the agencies and you just see the most amazing sort of self-dealing and self-enrichment. That’s what he’s brought to Washington. That’s what he’s augmented. After, you know, he follows perhaps the cleanest administration, I should note, that we’ve seen in a long time. Remember in the Obama years, nobody got indicted, nobody got arrested, nobody got convicted. And here we are in what just is a cesspool. It is breathtaking. But, again, that is who Donald Trump is.

NBDaily Morning Joe Eugene Robinson
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