You can tell a lot about someone by the company they keep. Donald Trump’s inner circle is slimy — and more than a little scary.
The nuns used to warn us about staying away from bad company. “We know who you are by the company you keep,” they would chide us. (Another favorite was, “Lie down with dogs, rise up with fleas.”)
The Trump campaign is lousy with fleas.
The latest news is that they’re now in talks with Dick Morris about a potential strategy role. If the name sounds vaguely familiar, he’s the former Bill Clinton adviser who has become a prime peddler of anti-Clinton smears. The Trump campaign is interested in having him join their “Hillary unit,” which plans to attack her over 20-year-old scandals.
A former Fox News contributor, he was recently announced as a “chief political commentator” for the prominent supermarket tabloid National Enquirer, and he is famous for egregiously wrong political predictions. (Also for saying just about anything someone pays him to say.) The ick factor is high; he’s pretty slimy.
But compared to the other two, Dick Morris is the nice one.
Meet the sleazy one: Roger Stone, famous for political dirty tricks, who describes himself as “a hit man for the GOP.” His specialty was using third-party candidates to splinter the vote to favor his clients, but you can’t put much else past him. The conservative Weekly Standard called him the “boastful black prince of Republican sleaze.” His current Twitter timeline claims Hillary Clinton “drove Vince Foster” to his death. (He has accused the Clintons of multiple murders and his co-author is an equally unsavory character.)
A former adviser to both Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan (he has Richard Nixon’s face tattooed on his back), he was a recent Trump strategist who left, he says, because it was clear that Donald was going to decide his own strategy. But he’s a longtime friend and odds are good that Stone will be operating behind the scenes whether he’s officially on the campaign payroll or not.
He was also the founder of the infamous Citizens United, and a principal in Black, Manafort, Stone and Kelly, a lobbying firm. And that brings us to the scary, evil one.
Paul Manafort (Roger Stone’s friend and former partner, who is now Donald’s campaign manager and chief strategist), is also known for his successful efforts lobbying on behalf of the Philippines’ Ferdinand Marcos, Angola’s Jonas Savimbi, Ukraine’s Viktor Yanukovych, and other foreign leaders. Basically, he specializes in working for arms dealers, dictators, foreign oligarchs, and human-rights abusers.
Foreign policy figures in both parties have expressed concern about the possibility of Manafort having access to the information Donald gets through his CIA security briefings. (Not to mention the people who think Donald himself shouldn’t get that information, either.)
Those nuns were on to something. The people Donald chooses as his associates tell us far too much about what a Trump presidency would look like — and it won’t be anything resembling democracy.
(AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)