All the Presumptive Nominee’s Men
For a guy who yells about Washington and Wall Street money in politics, Donald Trump sure has a lot on insiders on his team.
By Michael Winship
Donald Trump’s new campaign chairman and chief strategist Paul Manafort is a longtime political veteran and lobbyist whose clients have included an assortment of dictators and a Lebanese-born arms dealer. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Right after Barack Obama’s election in 2008, I flew off to Australia and New Zealand to attend a conference and take some vacation time. When I got to Sydney, I picked up one of the local newspapers and read that the president-elect had chosen Rahm Emanuel, poster boy for corporate Democrats and the status quo, to be his chief of staff.
Uh-oh, I thought. If Obama was choosing him to guide his administration, we probably could say goodbye to any dreams of a New Deal-style, aggressive agenda to cure the ills of our country. Emanuel was less the type to Keep Hope Alive and more the guy who holds hope at arm’s length with a blackjack threatening in the other hand.
You will know our presidents and presidential candidates by the company they keep. Just as Obama had Rahm and a gaggle of Wall Street Democrats advising him how to step away from the fiscal crisis without putting any of the guilty banksters in jail, so, too, have all our chief executives and nominees had their coteries. Andrew Jackson had his kitchen cabinet, FDR his Brain Trust, JFK and LBJ their best and brightest, Nixon his Palace Guard – even Warren Harding had his poker pals, although that den of thieves reportedly led him to complain to the famous newspaper editor William Allen White, “I can take care of my enemies all right. But my damn friends, my goddamned friends, White, they’re the ones who keep me walking the floor nights!”
And now, here comes Donald Trump, presumptive Republican presidential nominee and thug-in-a-nice-suit. If for some reason you aren’t already appalled by the specter of a con artist occupying the Oval Office, a man who would lie about what he had for breakfast, look to those with whom he has chosen to surround himself. Start with political dirty trickster and sleaze merchant Roger Stone, the man first introduced to Trump by Joe McCarthy acolyte Roy Cohn. Stone has had a 30-year, on-again, off-again relationship with the candidate and was publicly fired from Trump’s campaign staff last summer but still seems to be an unofficial advisor and mouthpiece.
Then there’s the abrasive campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, best known for that March incident with now-former Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields, who said he roughly grabbed her when she tried to ask Trump a question. A charge of simple battery was dismissed.
But Stone and Lewandowski are small potatoes compared to some of the new hires Trump has brought aboard since he clinched the nomination and expressed the desire to appear more presidential.