The “Best People”
You may recall, during the 2016 Presidential campaign, “When asked how he will handle complicated matters of economics, diplomacy, and national security, Trump has answered that he knows how to hire ‘the best people’ to assist him with these issues.” (www.cheatsheet.com, Aug. 29, 2016) It’s November 15, 2017, Donald Trump has been in office for almost 300 days, and we've had some time to see how he’s done, as regards hiring “the best people.” Starting in January, with the dismissal of Michael Flynn as NSA Director, we got an inkling of just how good these “best people” are. The indictments of Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, as well as the guilty plea of George Papadopoulous also reflect on Trump’s claim that he hires “the best people.” But let’s dig a little deeper.
Trump has nominated 58 people for appointment as judges on Federal Court benches around the country. 91% of those nominees are white and 81% are male. That does not mean these are not the “best people” but, if we look at some of those nominated, we may see there is cause for concern.
On November 8, 2017 the Washington Post editorial board published a story about the Trump Administration's rush to appoint judges. According to the Post:
in the president’s rush to appoint nominees and the Senate’s rush to confirm them, lawmakers risk giving too little scrutiny to potential judges whom the American Bar Association has rated unqualified for the job. With the exception of the George W. Bush administration, previous presidents have used recommendations by the nation’s largest professional association of lawyers to screen out potentially problematic nominees before seeking Senate approval. Mr. Trump, following in Mr. Bush’s footsteps, departed from that process by cutting the ABA out of the loop. The ABA instead has provided its views on nominees’ qualifications after candidates have been unveiled.
Historically, conservative Republicans have been “wary,” to say the least, of the American Bar Association, believing it to be a “left-leaning” organization. Nonetheless, it is the professional organization that represents lawyers across the United States that rates lawyers, as to whether they are “qualified” to practice law or not. Given that, it’s interesting to note:
At issue are three candidates for federal district judgeships in Oklahoma, Kansas and Alabama, along with Leonard Steven Grasz, nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit. The ABA found all four unqualified, unanimously in the cases of Mr. Grasz and Brett Talley, the Alabama nominee. In Mr. Talley’s case and that of Holly Lou Teeter, nominated to the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas, the Senate Judiciary Committee held confirmation hearings before the ABA had announced its ratings. Now, only days after receiving the ABA’s vote of no confidence in Mr. Talley and Ms. Teeter, the committee is still planning to move forward briskly with their nominations.
This should, of course, raise concerns about “the best people” Trump is nominating to lifetime judgeships! In Mr. Talley’s case he failed to mention on his disclosure form that he is married to a White House lawyer --- a clear conflict-of-interest. Beyond his “unqualified” rating from the ABA, Mr. Talley has only been practicing law for three years and has never tried a case! He has, however, “published three horror novels and two ‘true ghost’ stories, according to his website.” (New York Daily News, Nov. 14, 2017) The “best people,” indeed.
On November 1, 2017 Dana Milbank, writing in the Washington Post, provided information on a number of other of Trump’s “best people.” The first was Sam Clovis, whom we may all be familiar with because of his name being withdrawn for “chief scientist” for the Department of Agriculture --- due to his connection to the Papadopoulos dust-up. But, beyond being a talk-show host, what were Clovis’s qualifications for being the “chief scientist?” According to Milbank:
And, as scientists go, Clovis is an excellent talk-show host. Among his scientific breakthroughs: being “extremely skeptical” of climate change, calling homosexuality “a choice,” suggesting gay rights would lead to legalized pedophilia, pushing the Obama birther allegation, and calling Eric Holder a “racist bigot” and Tom Perez a “racist Latino.”
Almost as well qualified as Clovis was Sid Bowdidge, who was nominated as an assistant Secretary of Energy --- for energy efficiency and renewable energy. What were Mr. Bowdidge’s qualifications?
Before working for the Trump campaign, Bowdidge, from 2013 to 2015, was manager of the Meineke Car Care branch in Seabrook, N.H. He previously was service and branch manager for tire shops.
Bowdidge was also a massage therapist. His nomination was withdrawn when it was discovered he had tweeted:
In one tweet, he commented on a CNN article about the San Bernardino shooters, saying “exterminate them all." In another ” he had called Muslims 'maggots.’”
Here are some of the other “best people” nominees Milbank discovered:
Finally, doing some Blast research, I discovered the following about Dan Scavino, Jr. , who is the White House Director of Social Media & Assistant to the President. Here’s what Wikipedia says about Mr. Scavino, Jr.:
At age 16, he started working at the Briar Hall Country Club golf course. Trump bought the course in 1996 and renamed it the Trump National Golf Club. Scavino became Trump’s personal caddie and, over time, worked his way up through the ranks to become an Executive VP of Trump National Golf Club. Over the July 4, 2016 weekend, controversy arose when Trump's Twitter account posted an image selected by Scavino of Hillary Clinton with a text in the shape of a Star of David calling her the "Most Corrupt Candidate Ever"; said image had originally appeared on an anti-Semitic, white supremacist message board. (italics, bold mine)
As we watch this "President" complete his first year, it is important to note whom he believes are “the best people” as we continue to organize resistance against this misguided and destructive administration.