If the corollary to the old adage that no good deed goes unpunished is that no bad behavior goes unrewarded, then the people who have helped enable Donald Trump during his unprecedentedly scandal-ridden presidency would be the poster children for that observation.
Now that Trump has lost the 2020 election — whether he is willing to publicly concede that loss or not — questions are being raised as to whether those who worked for the lame-duck president and protected him during his tenure will face any stigma in their careers going forward for having been part of the corrupt administration.
A new article at The American Prospect suggests that — judging from the example of Trump’s former national security advisor Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster — accountability will slide off the backs of ex-Trump administration officials like an omelet from a Teflon pan.
Author Jonathan Guyer writes of McMaster’s silence in the face of numerous outrageous steps taken by Trump including his Muslim ban efforts and his revealing of highly classified military intelligence to Russian officials, despite his supposed status as one of the “adults in the room” who were meant to prevent the volatile and inexperienced president from going too far off the deep end.
Guyer’s account of McMaster’s subsequent fate after leaving the administration in March of 2018 demonstrates that few of the people integral to enabling Donald Trump are likely to face any serious blowback from prospective employers as they move back into the private sector.
“In a sign of what other departing Trump appointees are likely to encounter when they look for their next jobs, McMaster has faced no repercussions for any of this. Instead, like many of Trump’s early political appointees, he has leveraged the time he spent in the administration into previously unobtainable prestige and wealth. Interviews with 20 current and former national-security officials from the Trump administration show that those who worked with the president at the highest levels have been welcomed back into the establishment fold. The fact that so many Trump advisers have landed in powerful positions suggests no one who served the administration is too tainted for a university, consultancy, law firm, or corporation. Once again, Trump’s presidency is less a Republican anomaly than an intensification of business as usual.”
For McMaster, his post-administration rewards include “appointments at Stanford University, board seats at distinguished nonpartisan institutions, and a lucrative position at Zoom,” according to the article.
Other former senior Trump officials have done equally well for themselves in their post-White House endeavors, and Guyer presents formidable evidence of their success.
“Former Defense Secretary James Mattis has a board seat at the giant weapons-maker General Dynamics, a day job at the powerful consultancy the Cohen Group, and a fellowship from Stanford’s Hoover Institution. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly has gotten a job on the board of Caliburn International, a for-profit company with lucrative government contracts to operate shelters for migrant children. Chief of staff Reince Priebus, White House counsel Donald McGahn, and director of national intelligence Daniel Coats parlayed their administration experience into jobs at top corporate law firms. Economic adviser Gary Cohn landed at a new consultancy. National-security adviser John Bolton, with a $2 million advance in hand, authored a best-seller. Even press secretary Sean Spicer landed a prestigious fellowship from Harvard’s Institute of Politics,” he writes.
Apparently, human resources executives in Washington DC circles are rather forgiving in their assessments of former Trump administration figures.
“’Everyone who served is a grown-up, and everyone understands the exigencies of serving,” a researcher at a conservative think tank told Guyer. “I’m not big on guilt by association.”
Still, some believe that these officials should face some consequences for ignoring Trump’s misdeeds while they worked with him.
A former colleague of McMaster’s condemned those who would surrender their integrity for the material rewards and power that cooperating with Trump could bring them.
“’There is no honorable way to serve a corrupt and racist president,’ Paul Yingling, a retired military officer who served in combat alongside McMaster in Iraq, told me,” Guyer writes. “’President Trump has this capacity to sense in people that corruption that allows you to trade your integrity for proximity to power. He found it in Jim Mattis. He found it in John Kelly. He found it in H.R. McMaster.’”
You can read the rest of Jonathan Guyer’s detailed account of Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster’s lucrative post-administration career as published by The American Prospect at this link.
Suffice it to say that until social ostracism of everyone associated with the criminal excesses of the Trump administration brings them the shame and the difficulty of finding new work that their behavior deserves, justice will not be served.
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Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.