Consequences of Scandal: Distraction

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As the blockbuster Comey hearings take center stage in Washington D.C. today, TrumpAccountable.org continues to look at the consequences of the Russia/Trump scandal that is enveloping the White House and President Trump’s agenda. The first installment of the Consequences of Scandal series focused on the chilling effect that the scandal is having on hiring quality staff for the executive branch. This post focuses, however, on the ways that the scandal is distracting the Trump administration from not just achieving its agenda but in advocating for Americans and their interests at home and around the globe.

Campaign managers, wake up every day and try to “win the day” hoping to string together a series of winning days that lead their candidate into office. Legislative directors of elected officials try to do the same by building momentum, keeping their politician and the stories surrounding him/her moving in the general direction of success, and working to line up support in the media and across the political spectrum. A scandal – even a small scandal – tends to throw a campaign or legislative agenda into the weeds by shifting the focus away from the legislative goal and making it more difficult to control the narrative.

Candidate Trump survived scandals that would have demolished the careers of more traditional candidates in part because the crowded Republican field made it more difficult to garner attention. Scandals and outrageous or unsupported claims kept the focus on Trump throughout his primary and energized his base looking for something and someone different. The Trump/Russia scandal, however, is not giving Trump needed publicity, instead it is sapping his administration of its potential and hampering its ability to get even simple things done.

Earlier this week, for example, First Lady Melania Trump and President Trump hosted Gold Star families for an event designed to help raise awareness of the needs of these families while also honoring the fallen. The event, however, was lost in the run up to the Comey hearing and an event that could have helped Americans and advanced the President’s agenda was mired in the coverage of the Trump/Russia scandal.

Similarly, the Trump administration is not supporting new and important industries that require clarification of government rules and regulations. The drone industry, for example, is eager to establish the U.S. as a leader in manufacture and development with an anticipated 11 million commercial drones sold in the U.S. by 2020. According to Lisa Ellman, chair of the Unmanned Aircraft Systems group, the industry needs action from the FAA and the attention of President Trump can help this growing industry be prepared for the demands of the marketplace. “For the industry to truly take off,” argues Ellman, “we need rulemakings from the FAA that broadly authorize these types of operations in a way that is safe. The FAA is working on these rulemakings now, and the White House should encourage their timely release.”

Every day that Donald Trump is watching his coverage on cable news or tweeting angrily at his foes is a day he is not helping industries, like the drone industry, develop.

While Donald Trump is quick to blame the Democrats for the scandal and the coverage dominating cable news, in reality he only has himself to blame.

Donald Trump, without the help of Democrats,

  • hired Michael Flynn to be his NSA despite warnings from Christ Christie, President Obama, and others.
  • appointed Jeff Sessions as his Attorney General even though Sessions lied about his contact with Russian officials under oath during his confirmation hearings.
  • attempted to extract a pledge of loyalty from FBI Director Comey.
  • fired Comey for, among other things, his unwillingness to back off the Russia investigation.

At the end of the day, Donald Trump is accountable for his distracting scandals and the consequences the scandals have for all Americans.


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