David Cay Johnston on Donald Trump’s shady activities

Economics writer David Cay Johnson is a long-time Donald Trump watcher and in an interview on Democracy Now! says that there are a whole lot of unsavory elements in the way that he has done business, using undocumented labor, kickbacks, union-busting, tax-avoidance, corporate welfare, and others. Johnson lists 21 questions that should be asked of him.

Johnson says that if anyone seriously wanted to get him out of the race, they could force attention on these issues and demand explanations from him. Of course, he will refuse to answer and dodge the issues the way he always does but his campaign could be distracted.

Johnson continues:

And what I don’t understand, Amy, is not one major news organization has even tried to check these things out. I got one phone call from The Washington Post about this piece, “21 Questions for Donald Trump.” Nothing has appeared. And that’s because, in this country, politics reporters cover the horse race, and they do not vet the candidates the way they should. And Trump, if vetted properly, would quickly disappear from the polls.

I disagree with Johnson here. Even if he is vetted properly by the media, his followers will not desert him. But even the vetting won’t happen because his business practices are not that unusual among all the wealthy people who are the backers of the political-media elites, and these people in glass houses are unlikely to want to focus too much attention on the unsavory underworld of business dealings. Look at how Trump’s remarkable statement at the first debate about how he has personally bought the support of politicians, some of them on the stage with him, disappeared with little trace.

Johnson is right that Trump is appealing to the dark underside of people’s feelings in the US.

He is appealing to the worst instincts in us. He is appealing to racial instincts. And, you know, let’s recognize that, well, in polite society, you can’t say, “I don’t want to sit next to a black person or a brown person or an Asian person on the airplane or in a restaurant or at work.” You can’t say that. And so, there’s an undercurrent of people who hate that. They want to live in a white society. They want to imagine this is a Christian country, even though the Constitution expressly in Article VI makes clear it’s not a religious country in any way. And Donald has provided a way for those people who harbor these bad thoughts, I would argue, they harbor these inhumane thoughts, to channel them through him.

And they are so enamored of this, they ignore the fact that he is proposing to create a massive police state, to round up people, to have a—we were required to have adjudicatory hearings, although Donald likes to think he would be dictator—and spend enormous amounts of money on removing people from the country, including children born here who are citizens, and erecting a wall, which will do absolutely nothing to stop people coming here in an effort to find a better life. So, people who harbor these awful feelings and suffer from the social disease of white skin privilege just aren’t really thinking through what Donald is proposing, which is a massive new government program that’s totally contrary to the Republican promise of less government.

This is the man that is leading the race for the Republican nomination.


  1. Chiroptera says

    David Cay Johnson: And that’s because, in this country, politics reporters cover the horse race, and they do not vet the candidates the way they should.

    I also wonder how much blame can be place on mainstream journalists’ weird view of fairness and impartiality — what Paul Krugman calls the “disagreement on the shape of the earth” style of journalism.

    By bringing up Trump’s shady practices themselves, they’d be “unfair” and “taking sides” in the campaign, at lest until one of the other candidates makes it an issue

  2. raven says

    1. I saw an article with a list of failed Trump projects and bankruptcies. There were 19 of them and the list ended in 2012. There are more now.

    It’s all public knowledge and easily available. Few people care.

    2. A lot of banks, investors, and hedge funds lost a lot of money in these projects. Trump made a lot of money though.

    This is a standard if shady business practice. You tansfer OPM, Other People’s Money, to YM, Your Money.

    Just looking at his history, I certainly wouldn’t invest anything with him.

  3. raven says

    Why evangelicals back Donald Trump

    He’s atop a poll of white evangelical Republicans despite a history of liberal statements on social issues.

    Headline today.

    As predicted a few days ago, the fundies are falling in line. Trump is the ultimate Family Values candidate, married three times, made big money on gambling and shady business practices. Why not, they voted for Romney who isn’t even a xian last time.

    Fundies never walk their talk. They say their religion is important to them but never act like it means anything. Fundie-ism is hollowed out, it’s just hate and tribalism with a few crosses stuck on for show.

  4. raven says

    He is appealing to the worst instincts in us. He is appealing to racial instincts.

    1. Trump supporters want to turn back the clock. To 1950. Or 1850. To a white and xian American. It isn’t possible.

    2. The US will be majority nonwhite in 2043. Four states already are, including the two largest in population, Texas and California.

    US xianity is dying, losing 2 million members a year. They will be a minority in 2035 or so.

    Voting for Trump won’t change that. In fact, net immigration from Mexico is more or less zero these days.

  5. Robert, not Bob says

    I wonder if some conservatives are thinking that this mass deportation plan could be a useful precedent. After all, there are all those Muslim and Jewish and unbeliever American citizens to get rid of…

  6. WhiteHatLurker says

    Actually, depending on the poll, Trump is leading the race for U.S. president.

    I urge you all to vote for Deez Nuts,

  7. machintelligence says

    There was an op ed column in the Sunday paper by George Will complaining about Trump’s tactics and the refusal of the other candidates to call him out about them. Will is obviously out of touch with the Republican base voters who are lapping it up. He might want to rethink his support of the Republicans, who are beginning to look rather bad. After all, if you lie down with dogs, you shouldn’t complain about getting fleas.

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