Not Donald, just ‘don’

32. He is known by the company he keeps

Assigning guilt by association requires care. People aren’t evil or even distasteful merely because they have an evil or distasteful relative or friend or business associate, or even two or three of them. When someone deliberately surrounds himself with only the most unsavory of characters, however, it says something about their character. More and more, DT seems like nothing more than a gang leader in charge of a pack of undisciplined petty criminals. A mob boss, if you will.

He has run with an unprincipled crowd for a long time. After going into the real estate-swindler business, he retained the uniquely vile Roy Cohn as his attorney. He was attracted to Cohn’s complete lack of ethics—in particular, his refusal to pay his debts and his taxes—and it is evident that he learned much from the man. When Cohn died, no one else nearly as depraved was available, so DT for forced to settle for hiring lawyers who were merely reprehensible. He has continued in this vein ever since, not only with his personal legal team but with the Justice Department, which under the control of Bill Barr has been acting like part of that team. DT prefers to associate with people whose sense of ethics is either badly warped or nonexistent. Hence criminals like Paul Manafort and Steve Bannon, liars like Sara Huckabee Sanders and Kellyanne Conway, lying criminals like Roger Stone—all current or former close associates of this exceptionally corrupt president.

All in all, it’s a deeply shady crew. Precious few people who have had a working relationship of any kind with DT have clean hands, and they’ve mostly been dismissed and then dissed by him. When someone—Jeff Sessions, for instance—displays even the slightest hint of ethical qualms in the presence of this president, he drops them like a hot potato.

It’s long past time we put a stop to this gang of villains. The single most effective action we can take to that end is to vote DT out of office.

Further afield

Even when the people aren’t directly around him, DT chooses to affiliate himself with a villainous bunch. He pardons random losers like Joe Arpaio and Bernard Kerik because they’re his eager sycophants.

These connections go well beyond the borders of the U.S. He admires foreign strongmen like Putin and Duterte, Modi and Bolsonaro, Erdogan and Kim; they’re all buddy-buddy with him, even though they’re deeply antagonistic to democratic principles. Even if they interfere with American safety or sovereignty. Presumably it is because they admire him back (or at least pretend to). This mob’s don has got to go.

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