Donald Trump

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Donald Trump is the 45th US Republican president and a billionaire businessman.

Trump is said to have been elected because of his racist and 'anti-political correctness' policies. On them, Kundnani said:

'[W]hat he’s saying is, 'I will grab power for my people, for my race, for my nation,’ and we don’t need to bother with the pretence of politically correct rules, and so forth. I think that’s a very emotional aspect of his appeal, tied up with that sense that a liberal curtain will be pulled back, and then we’ll be dealing with politics in its authentic form – them and us. And the ‘us’ for him would be, implicitly and often explicitly, white Americans.' [1]

On what Trump's election means for the future:

'It’s too early to say how this will play out but is seems like a new paradigm is emerging here. Aspects of the orthodoxy of the last forty years might be getting reworked in quite fundamental ways. Free trade is a sacred value of the establishment [but he wants to withdraw from NAFTA]. When you look at the different components of Trump’s politics, the particular sections of society it’s appealing to, the fact that racism is central to it, the fact that he wants to dispense with all kinds of liberal values, the fact that he wants centralised state power, you can see the resemblance to fascist ideology. And I don’t think it’s unreasonable to describe this as a new kind of fascism, but it’s a very different kind of fascism from the early twentieth century fascism.' [1]

Financial stocks

Trump holds ownership stakes in more than 500 companies worldwide. [2]

Oil company stocks

His 2016 federal disclosure forms show he owned between $15,000 and $50,000 in stock in the Energy Transfer Partners company, down from between $500,000 and $1 million a year earlier. He also owns between $100,000 and $250,000 in Phillips 66, which has a one-quarter share of Dakota Access. This could affect his view of the $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline project and the decision he makes as president.

Kelcy Warren, CEO of Energy Transfer Partners, who donated $3,000 to Trump's campaign, plus $100,000 to a committee supporting Trump's candidacy and $66,800 to the Republican National Committee, told the Associated Press how he expected his infrastructure projects to go under Trump: 'Do I think it's going to get easier? Of course'.

Moreover, in his own administration, at least two possible candidates for energy secretary could also benefit. Oil billionaire Harold Hamm could use the pipeline to transport the oil from his company, Continental Resources, and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry serves on the board of directors of Energy Transfer Partners. [2]

Legal issues

The New York Times described Trump as the future president facing 'a tsunami of litigation' when taking office. As of November 2016, at least 75 of the 4,000-plus lawsuits underway against him or his companies were still open, according to USA Today's investigation. They range from small battles with pageant contestants to multimillion dollar real estate lawsuits. The newspaper warns that these could not only prove very distracting for the president, they could also create conflicts of interest. For instance, in 2016 he attacked a federal judge who is presiding over the lawsuit against Trump University, saying District Judge Gonzalo Curiel is biased against Trump because the judge is of Mexican descent and Trump proposes a 'great wall' along the Mexican border. There might be a possibility that his judicial appointments be influenced by his court cases. [3] [4]

The review showed that Trump frequently used the 'scorched-earth approach' to lawsuits, meaning he 'responds to even small disputes with overwhelming legal force, not hesitating to use his tremendous wealth and legal firepower against adversaries with limited resources'. The review also shows Trump and his companies have been accused for years of mistreating women. [4]

Trump University cases

Former students from across the US have sued in two class actions, accusing the Trump University of charging them up to $35,000 only to lie about the value of the lessons they would receive. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sued in 2013 and has since described Trump University as a 'fraud' and a 'scam.'

Some legal commentators believed that, if Trump or his University are found liable for fraud, this could provide Congress with the grounds to consider impeachment proceedings. Even though information on his accusations is private, Trump’s candidacy has prompted court battles to get records in his cases unsealed. Upon becoming president, Trump settle the lawsuit for $25 million. [3] [4]

Links with established elite

According to Kundnani, Trumps' campaign was based on two pitches: one characterized by racism and the other anti-elitism. 'Of course his anti-elitism is a fiction, in the sense that he’s a part of the elite and he stands for the elite and he embodies the elite. In office, he will compromise on his anti-elitism and, to compensate for that, he will go overboard on his racism'. [1]

Trump's 'team of gazillionaires'

In an article published on November 24th 2016 and entitled 'Trump's team of gazillionaires', Politico reported that his newly assembled administration 'could be worth as much as $35 billion' and was very much part of the elite he seemed to rally against in his speeches. He has already hired:

  • Betsy DeVos: businesswoman and supporter of the Acton Insitute, whose family is worth $5.1 billion
  • Steve Bannon for White House Adviser: has likely earned millions off his stake in the show Seinfeld alone and may have earned as much while at Goldman Sachs.
  • Steven Mnuchin for Treasury secretary. Worth at least $46 million, Mnuchin worked for Goldman Sachs for 17 years and was Trump's campaign loyalist and fundraiser. [5]
  • Wilbur Ross as Commerce Secretary: An investor worth $2.9 billion, and 'known as the king of bankruptcy for his investments in distressed properties'. [6]
  • Elaine Chao for Transport Secretary. According the the New York Times, her 'background and experience are in many respects completely at odds with the brash and disruptive tenor of his anti-Washington campaign'. She previously served as secretary of labor under George W. Bush and worked in the White House under Ronald Reagan and George H. Bush. She has also worked for Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government as well as the Heritage Foundation. She sits on Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation board of directors. [7]
  • Linda MacMahon for Small Business Administrator. Worth $1.35 billion.
  • Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State. Worth $365 million.
  • Ben Carson for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development: retired neurosurgeon (estimated fortune of $26 million)
  • Tom Price for Health and Human Services Secretary. Worth $13.6 million.
  • Jeff Sessions for Attorney General. Worth $7.5 million.
  • Andrew Puzder for Labor Secretary: made more than $4.4 million in 2012 as CEO of the holding company of restaurant chains. [8]
  • Todd Ricketts for Deputy Commerce Secretary. Forbes estimates Todd Ricketts and his family are worth $5.3 billion.
  • Vincent Viola for Army secretary. Wall Street executive and Florida Panthers owner, he is estimated to be worth $1.79 billion, according to Forbes.
  • Gary Cohn, the Goldman Sachs president who is in line to become director of the National Economic Council. [9]

Trump's economic Strategic and Policy Forum

Launched in early December, the forum will provide economic advice and will 'be called upon to meet with the president frequently to share their specific experience and knowledge as the president implements his plan to bring back jobs and Make America Great Again'.

Its members include:

Links with climate denialists

Views

He tweeted in 2012 that 'the concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive.' In 2016, Trump even pledged to roll back Barack Obama's Clean Power Plan — a set of rules that requires states to substantially reduce their emissions over the next few decades. [11]

Appointments on his team

To run the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in his transition team, Trump picked a climate denialist named Myron Ebell, who served as director of global warming and environmental policy at the libertarian Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI). According to Business Insider, '[i]n practice, that means he spends his time rejecting and trying to discredit scientists who work to understand the global climate.' Indeed, Ebell argued Business Insider during a 2016 interview that climate scientists were 'global warming alarmists' and suggested that climate research is actually an arm of a coordinated political movement. He added:

'I think it would be much better to free up the economy and get rid of the EPA rules and a lot of the Department of Energy programs and let the economy boom forward.'

To this news, Dan Lashof, COO of the environmental group NextGen Climate America, reacted by saying: 'You know, [Trump] said he was going to drain the swamp in Washington, and instead he's put Myron Ebell — a swamp rat, a DC insider lobbyist — in charge of the transition at the EPA' [11]

Links with counterjihad movement

Arun Kundnani on Trump's background in the counterjihad movement:

'Trump first came to prominence defending racist housing policies in the 1970s and calling for the death penalty for African-American and Hispanic teenagers in the 1980s. Then, through the Birther movement, he is connected to a conspiratorial tradition on the American right, which goes back to the John Birch Society. But today, it’s very much tied up with Islamophobia. The Birther movement was not only about saying that Obama was not American but also that he was secretly Muslim. The real energy of Trump’s campaign initially came from making the arguments about banning Muslims. His critique of Obama was that he was deliberately trying to obscure the nature of the enemy, and we need to be more honest and direct in naming the enemy.' [1]

Adding:

'I think we should take absolutely seriously the racism and Islamophobia of it and not just see it as a rhetorical device to get elected.'[1]

Policy proposal to 'ban all Muslims'

In December 2015, Trump proposed in a speech to 'ban' the entry into the U.S to all Muslims, referring to the refugee crisis [12]. As a justification for it, he used a survey that was created by the Center for Security Policy's Frank Gaffney, claiming to show that many US-based Muslims were willing to use violence against other Americans and that even more wanted the option to be governed by Sharia. The survey turned out to be 'bogus'. [13]

Appoints foreign policy adviser with strong counterjihad movement links

Of the eight people appointed as advisors to 2016 candidates Donald Trump and Senator Ted Cruz, all have connections to Center for Security Policy and half hold ranking positions within the group. [14]

  • Walid Phares: Lebanese-American 'counter-terrorism expert'. [15] Mother Jones revealed that Phares, 'was a high ranking political official in a [Christian] sectarian religious militia responsible for massacres during Lebanon's brutal, 15-year civil war.' He was a guest on an ACT! for America series in 2011 and has spoken at several events organized by the Center for Security Policy (CSP). [14]
  • Senator Jeff Sessions – described as 'one of the most outspoken anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim federal officials' by the Southern Poverty Law Center. He received the “Daring the Odds” award from the David Horowitz Freedom Center for his efforts to prevent undocumented youth from receiving temporary status in the United States in 2014. In September 2015, Sessions attacked Obama’s plan to resettle Syrian refugees in the US, stating, 'it has also been reported that 3 in 4 of those seeking relocation from the Middle East are not refugees but economic migrants from many countries.' [14] Sessions was also appointed for the position of Attorney General in Trump's cabinet.
  • Joseph E. Schmitz – Senior Fellow with the Center for Security Policy. He spent three years as the Pentagon’s Inspector General before leaving under a barrage of scrutiny. According to the Los Angeles Times, 'Schmitz slowed or blocked investigations of senior Bush administration officials, spent taxpayer money on pet projects and accepted gifts that may have violated ethics guidelines.' He is a co-author of two CSP reports: 'Shariah: The Threat to America,' and 'The Secure Freedom Strategy: A Plan for Victory Over the Global Jihad Movement.'[14]

Trump's team

  • Kris Kobach: only a few days after Trump was elected in 2016, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, considered for the post of attorney general at the time, said in an interview that Trump’s policy advisers had discussed drafting a proposal for his consideration to reinstate a registry for immigrants from Muslim countries. Kobach was reported as a key member of Trump's transition team, and had already helped design the registry program, known as the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System, while serving in George W. Bush’s Department of Justice after the September 11 attacks. But the program was abandoned in 2011 after it was deemed redundant by Homeland Security and denounced by civil rights groups for unfairly targeting immigrants from Muslim-majority nations.
  • Steve Bannon: was appointed as White House chief strategist by Trump. This raised many criticisms, as politicians and commentators argued that he harbored sympathies for white nationalist arguments and rhetoric. Organizations including the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League condemned him for 'aggressively pushing stories against immigrants' and his association with 'unabashed anti-Semites and racists'. Bannon is the former executive chairman of far-right Breitbart News, and was Trump’s campaign chief from August through election day. A story from the Politico claims that 'depending how Bannon shapes it, Breitbart could become the closest thing the United States has ever had to a "state-run media enterprise", to quote a phrase by a former Breitbart spokesman'. [16]
On his appointment, Kundnani said:
'The fact that Trump has appointed Stephen K. Bannon as his chief strategist tells you that Trump’s politics is Breitbart politics. What was the Breitbart front page in the days after the election? It was Nigel Farage and Marine Le Pen. Those connections exist between the far-right in Europe and Trump.'[1]
  • Reince Priebus: Trump's chief of staff. [17] When asked, Priebus said he was 'not going to rule out anything' when it came to banning Muslim immigration, but seemed to suggest that such a ban would not explicitly prohibit Muslims outright. In an interview on ABC’s 'This Week.', he said of Islam: 'Clearly there are some aspects of that faith that are problematic and we know them; we’ve seen it'. [18]
  • Clare Lopez: vice president of the Center for Security Policy, was reportedly considered as Trump's deputy national security adviser until Kathleen Troia McFarland was announced. Lopez believes that 'infiltration [of the U.S. government by the Muslim Brotherhood] is obviously very deep and very broad within the bureaucracy, not just the top level, but throughout the federal system, including the intelligence community.' [19]
  • Retired Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn: National Security Adviser, i.e. the chief arbiter of virtually every major defense and foreign policy decision. He had been forced out as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2014 after 30 years of his military career. According to Politico, this 'signals the president-elect’s intention to wage an aggressive war on terrorism — possibly without the diplomatic and cultural sensitivities that have been the hallmark of President Barack Obama’s approach, which Flynn has repeatedly criticized'. Flynn's views on Islam appear to be very much hard-lined: in the past he has argued that 'Islam is a political ideology,' and Islamism a 'vicious cancer inside the body of 1.7 billion people' that needs to be 'excised'. [20][21]. In a recent book co-authored with conservative scholar Michael Ledeen, Flynn wrote against 'political correctness' and accused Obama of having failed to recognize 'the war being waged against us.'
'This administration has forbidden us to describe our enemies properly and clearly: they are Radical Islamists. They are not alone, and are allied with countries and groups who, though not religious fanatics, share their hatred of the West, particularly the United States and Israel. Those allies include North Korea, Russia, China, Cuba and Venezuela.' [22]
  • Mike Pompeo: a congressman from Kansas and Trump's CIA director. He is a prominent critic of the nuclear deal between the US and Iran, and has already promised to undo it when in power. He has called Edward Snowden a 'traitor' who should be 'given a death sentence' for having leaked National Security Agency secrets. He criticized a 2014 Senate report that found certain CIA interrogation techniques, such as waterboarding, to be unconstitutional, and has opposed Obama’s plans to shut down the Guantánamo Bay prison. He has also expressed many Islamophobic views, such as accusing Muslim leaders of being 'potentially complicit' in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. The Council on American-Islamic Relations denounced the accusation as 'false and irresponsible.' [21]
  • Mike Huckabee: The former Arkansas governor, two-time Republican presidential candidate, and Southern Baptist minister considered for some time for the position of ambassador to Israel. Huckabee is a known proponent of Christian Zionism. [23] His views on Islam also resemble those of other members. In 2015, he called on President Obama to resign as he, along with Hillary Clinton, 'served as apologists for radical Islamic terrorists' and was supposedly more concerned with attacking Republicans than defeating ISIS. [24]
  • David Friedman: a bankruptcy lawyer Trump finally chose to be his ambassador to Israel. Friedman has been a personal friend of Trump’s for about 15 years but has no government experience. He does, however, seem to have 'the most hard-right approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict of any US ambassador to Israel in history'. He was a semi-regular contributor to Arutz Sheva until summer 2016, when he started advising the Trump campaign on Israel policy. He called the two-state solution a 'a suicidal ‘peace’ with hateful radical Islamists hell bent on Israel’s destruction' and a 'con' where the 'US State Department — with a hundred-year history of anti-Semitism — promote[d] the payoff of corrupt Palestinians in exchange for their completely duplicitous agreement'. He has called for stripping Israeli Arabs of their citizenship if they engage in 'seditious' speech. Moreover he has proclaimed that American Jews who support the two-state approach - like J Street - approach, are 'worse' than kapok, i.e. Jews who helped the Nazis run concentration camps in exchange for special privileges. [25]

Links with the military-industrial complex and neoconservatives

Militaristic policies

Although Trump's views of the American military system have proven to be contradictory, he did give a speech in Philadelphia in september 2016, in which he insisted on huge spending increases to make the army competitive. He drew heavily on a military spending blueprint created by the Heritage Foundation, which according to Salon 'called for tens of thousands of additional troops, a Navy of 350 ships (the current goal is 308), a significantly larger Air Force, an anti-missile, space-based Star Wars-style program of Reaganesque proportions, and an acceleration of the Pentagon’s $1 trillion "modernization" program for the nuclear arsenal (now considered a three-decade-long project)'. Such a project could increase the Pentagon budget by over $900 billion in ten years. [26]

National security transition team appointments

Trump has appointed:

  • Mira Ricardel: a former executive at Boeing’s Strategic Missiles and Defense unit, and was previously on George W. Bush's team. It is likely that she will push for spending hundreds of billions of dollars on a new nuclear bomber and a new generation of intercontinental ballistic missiles, as she has already done so before.
  • Mike Flynn as National Security Adviser: see 'Links with counterjihad movements' section.
  • Frank Gaffney: see 'Links with counterjihad movements' section.
  • R. James Woolsey: former CIA director and strong advocate of the 2003 invasion of Iraq. He is strongly connected to neoconservative networks and think tanks, such as the Project for the New American Century and the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq. He is also an executive at Booz, Allen, and Hamilton, major defense and intelligence contractors.

And is considering:

  • General James Mattis (or General James 'Mad Dog' Mattis): former head of the U.S. Central Command who left office in 2013 over disagreements with the Obama administration. The Washington Post reported that he 'consistently pushed the military to punish Iran and its allies, including calling for more covert actions to capture and kill Iranian operatives and interdictions of Iranian warships'.
  • Jim Talent: a former senator who worked at the Heritage Foundation for seven years before joining the American Enterprise Institute. He is a strong advocate of spending an arbitrary 4% of GDP on defense (which would amount to $800 billion/year).
  • Kelly Ayotte for Pentagon chief: former Senator of New Hampshire, who campaigned for an end to caps on Pentagon spending along with John McCain.
  • Tom Cotton for Pentagon chief: Senator of Arkansas, is also known for his fierce opponent of the Iran nuclear deal and pushing for increased Pentagon spending.
  • Randy Forbes for Secretary of the Navy: former Republican Virginia Congressman and outgoing chairman of the House Armed Services Committee’s Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee. He has been the most vocal advocate in Congress for a larger Navy.
  • John Bolton for Secretary of State: dubbed 'the hawk's hawk who never met an arms control agreement he didn’t despise' by Salon. He has already called for Trump to scrap the Iran nuclear deal on his first day in office.
  • Mitt Romney for Secretary of State. [26]

Foreign Policy predictions

Kundnani:

'It’s hard [to predict] but there are some certainties. One is that the Trump administration will be fully aligned with the Israeli far-right, and that means moving the US embassy to Jerusalem, criminalising the BDS movement, going after pro-Palestinian groups within the US, all of which is very bad news for the Palestinians and their allies. It looks as if there will also be a rapprochement with Assad in Syria, which is bad news for the Syrian opposition who will be crushed between Russia and the United States.' [1]

Affiliations

Notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 ARUN KUNDNANI and PHOEBE BRAITHWAITE Ripping back the veil: an interview with Arun Kundnani, OpenDemocracy, 19 November 2016, accessed 13 December 2016.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Donald Trump's stock in oil pipeline company raises concern, CNBC, 25 November 2016. Accessed 25 November 2016.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Donald Trump and the Lawsuit Presidency , New York Times, November 25 2016, accessed November 25 2016
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Nick Penzenstadler and John Kelly, http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/elections/2016/10/25/pending-lawsuits-donald-trump-presidency/92666382/ How 75 pending lawsuits could distract a Donald Trump presidency], USA Today, accessed November 25 2016
  5. Peter Nicholas, Donald Trump to Pick Ex-Banker Steven Mnuchin for Treasury Nominee, Wall Street Journal, November 29 2016. Accessed November 30 2016.
  6. Jim Puzzanghera, Trump names billionaire investor Wilbur Ross as Commerce secretary, Los Angeles Times, November 29 2016. Accessed November 30 2016.
  7. JEREMY W. PETERS and MAGGIE HABERMAN, Trump Picks Elaine Chao for Transportation Secretary, New York Times, November 29 2016. Accessed November 30 2016.
  8. BEN WHITE and MATTHEW NUSSBAUM, Trump's team of gazillionaires, Politico, November 24 2016, accessed November 28 2016.
  9. Matt Rocheleau, Trump’s Cabinet picks so far worth a combined $13b, Boston Globe, 20 December 2016. Accessed 21 December 2016.
  10. Rob Price, Elon Musk and Uber CEO Travis Kalanick are joining Trump's economic advisory team, Business Insider, 14 December 2016, accessed 15 December 2016.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Trump is taking advice on the future of the environment from a man who denies basic science, Business Insider, November 21 2016. accessed November 25 2016
  12. Patrick Healey and Michael Barbaro, Donald Trump Calls for Barring Muslims From Entering U.S., New York Times, 7 December 2015
  13. Jessica Schulberg, Ted Cruz’s New Adviser Is Even More Anti-Muslim Than Donald Trump, The Huffington Post, 17 March 2016. Accessed 11 October 2016.
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 Stephen Piggott, Meet the Anti-Muslim Leaders Advising Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, Southern Poverty Law Center, March 28 2016. Accessed 11 October 2016.
  15. Tim Murphy, Does Donald Trump Think His Top Foreign Policy Adviser Is Muslim?, Mother Jones, 22 March 2016
  16. Ellen Killoran, Steve Bannon And Breitbart News: Why Everyone But The Alt-Right Fears Trump's Top Adviser Pick, Forbes, November 14 2016. Accessed November 17 2016.
  17. Tricia Tongco, What You Need to Know About Trump's Appointment of Steve Bannon, ATTN, NOVEMBER 13TH 2016. Accessed 17 November 2016.
  18. Eliot Nelson, Reince Priebus Voices Support For Altered Muslim Ban, Huffington Post, 20 November 2016. accessed 21 November 2017, 2016.
  19. 19.0 19.1 Jon Schwarz, Muslim-Hating Conspiracy Theorist Frank Gaffney May (or May Not) Be Advising Trump’s Transition Team, The Intercept, November 16 2016, accessed 21 November 2017, 2016. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "may" defined multiple times with different content
  20. Andrew Kaczynski, Michael Flynn in August: Islamism a 'vicious cancer' in body of all Muslims that 'has to be excised', CNN News, November 23, 2016. Accessed November 23, 2016
  21. 21.0 21.1 . Alison Griswold, Donald Trump is putting together a national-security team full of hardliners, Quartz, November 19, 2016. Accessed 21 November 2016
  22. Bryan Bender, Trump names Mike Flynn national security adviser, Politico, 17 November 2016. Accessed 21 November 2016
  23. Conservative Christian minister Mike Huckabee is likely to be Donald Trump’s ambassador to Israel, Quartz, November 18, 2016. Accessed 21 November 2016
  24. Brian Tashman, Mike Huckabee: Obama Must Resign For Protecting Islam Over America, Right Wing Watch, November 23, 2015. Accessed 21 November 2016
  25. Zack Beauchamp Trump's pick for Israel ambassador thinks liberal Jews are "worse" than Nazi collaborators, Vox, 16 December 2016. Accessed 19 December 2016.
  26. 26.0 26.1 WILLIAM D. HARTUNG, [Pentagon rising: Donald Trump could be good news for the Military-Industrial Complex http://www.salon.com/2016/11/28/pentagon-rising-donald-trump-could-be-good-news-for-the-military-industrial-complex_partner/], Salon, November 28 2016. Accessed November 28 2016.