This has been Hell Week for Donald Trump. From the sentencing of his former attorney, Michael Cohen, to the court filings suggesting that he was intimately involved in illegal actions during the 2016 campaign, the bad news reverberated around Washington and seemed to suggest the end might be near for the Trump administration.
But it was a story that broke on Friday that has caused the most concern at the White House, mainly because it could well implicate First Lady Melania Trump and the president’s daughter, Ivanka.
The 2016 inauguration is now being put under a microscope by federal investigators that want to know who exactly donated that record $107 million to the Trump inaugural committee. A large portion of the money was given to a close friend of Melania Trump, and Ivanka set the prices for bookings at the Trump hotel in D.C.
Though he wasn’t mentioned by name, Vice President Mike Pence is also a part of the inaugural scandal because he was head of the transition team, which helped coordinate the inauguration.
Pence, you may recall, was the second person to head the presidential transition. The first was Chris Christie, but he was pushed overboard by Trump, allegedly because he wouldn’t let Trump skim money from transition bank accounts. As Michael Lewis writes in his book, The Fifth Risk:
“Trump was apoplectic, actually yelling, You’re stealing my money! You’re stealing my fucking money! What the fuck is this?? Seeing Bannon, Trump turned on him and screamed, Why are you letting him steal my fucking money? Bannon and Christie together set out to explain to Trump federal law. […] To which Trump replied, Fuck the law. I don’t give a fuck about the law. I want my fucking money. Bannon and Christie tried to explain that Trump couldn’t have both his money and a transition.
Shut it down, said Trump. Shut down the transition.”
The transition was not shut down, but Christie was let go and Pence given the reins in control of the transition. Why was Pence chosen? Because he would be more pliable, more willing to let Trump steal as much as he wanted?
Make no mistake, Mike Pence dreams of being president. He even thinks God has ordained him to be leader of the free world. But his close proximity to a man as crooked as Donald Trump suggests he’s probably as dirty as his boss, if only because he’s been willing to do whatever it takes to gain power. And that could wind up being his downfall.