Nepotism has been a shameful problem in the Trump White House.
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With the president’s daughter Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner tasked with major responsibilities in the administration despite a lack of senate confirmations and with dubious qualifications for security clearances, Trump has consistently chosen family ties over competence in his choice of senior advisors.
Now comes news that as bad as the current arrangement is, it could have been much worse.
According to a new book by former Trump campaign deputy Rick Gates — yes, the same Rick Gates who was indicted as part of the Mueller investigation into the campaign’s interactions with Russia and eventually pled guilty to one count of false statements and one count of conspiracy against the United States — Trump initially wanted to name Ivanka to be his running mate in the 2016 election.
“I think it should be Ivanka,” Trump is quoted by Gates in his new book, Wicked Game: An Insider’s Story on How Trump Won, Mueller Failed and America Lost. “What about Ivanka as my VP?”
The book, which will be published in mid-October, goes on to explain that Donald Trump was so serious about the idea that he brought it up multiple times and even organized polls of potential voters to see what they thought of the idea.
“All heads turned toward her, and she just looked surprised,” Gates writes of when Trump first raised the ideain front of a group of staffers. “We all knew Trump well enough to keep our mouths shut and not laugh. He went on: ‘She’s bright, she’s smart, she’s beautiful, and the people would love her!”’
Ivanka herself reportedly told her father that the idea might not be as good as he thought it was.
In light of the recent revelations in The New York Times that claim that Ivanka’s advice to the Trump Organization was likely deducted as a consulting fee to reduce her father’s taxes, perhaps the president’s daughter is at least smart enough to have known that it might not be a great idea to bring more attention to the Trump family’s suspect finances by running as her father’s vice-presidential candidate.
Gates also gives details of the other candidates who were considered before Trump decided on Mike Pence after the former Indiana Governor gave a “vicious and extended monologue” attacking Hillary Clinton.
Reportedly, Gates writes that former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, Tennessee senator Bob Corker, Alabama senator Jeff Sessions (eventually Trump’s first attorney general), Iowa senator Joni Ernst and former defense secretary Robert Gates were also floated as possible running mates for the president.
For their part, Trump’s influential family members, Ivanka and Jared, favored former House speaker Newt Gingrich as the best person for the vice-presidential slot, although it’s uncertain whether two egos as big as those of Donald Trump and Gingrich could have ever peacefully co-existed in the same administration, much less the same room.
Gate’s book, of which only short excerpts are available through reporting in Bloomberg News, is reportedly less of a Trump administration alumnus tell-all confessional than a spirited “defense of the president and how he and others helped elect him,” as The Washington Post describes the tome.
Due to Gates’ cooperation in the Mueller investigation, his plea deal resulted in a wrist slap penalty for him as his testimony helped convict his close associate Paul Manafort, one of Trump’s campaign managers, and send him to prison, albeit briefly.
It’s good to know that America dodged the bullet that would have placed not one but two Trumps in the White House with all their concomitant “alleged” financial fraud in tow.
Original reporting by Jennifer Jacobs at Bloomberg News.
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