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The devil, he has a plan


Yet another NYT tax return story, this time laying out the massive web of pay-to-play influence peddling that has gone on in Donald Trump’s swamp:

As president-elect, he had pledged to step back from the Trump Organization and recuse himself from his private company’s operation. As president, he built a system of direct presidential influence-peddling unrivaled in modern American politics.

Federal tax-return data for Mr. Trump and his business empire, which was disclosed by The New York Times last month, showed that even as he leveraged his image as a successful businessman to win the presidency, large swaths of his real estate holdings were under financial stress, racking up losses over the preceding decades.

But once Mr. Trump was in the White House, his family business discovered a lucrative new revenue stream: people who wanted something from the president. An investigation by The Times found over 200 companies, special-interest groups and foreign governments that patronized Mr. Trump’s properties while reaping benefits from him and his administration. Nearly a quarter of those patrons have not been previously reported.

The tax records — along with membership rosters for Mar-a-Lago and the president’s golf club in Bedminster, N.J., as well as other sources — reveal how much money this new line of business was worth.

Can’t wait for the Roberts Court opinion holding that bribery is protected by the First Amendment because it doesn’t create the appearance of a conflict of interest. Our president just likes to do favors any money he may have taken ex ante surely had no causal connection to any future action!

Anyway, there’s a lot of interesting stuff here, some of which I might come back to.

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