Private Emails, Private Jets and Mr. Trump’s Idea of Public Service


Anthony Russo

Electing him, Donald Trump promised on the campaign trail, would “make every dream you ever dreamed for your country come true.” Among those reveries, he suggested, would be a government free of self-dealing and one devoted to public service. “If we want to make America great again,” he wrote in an op-ed for USA Today days before the election, “we must clean up this corruption.”

This ambition has all but vanished from Mr. Trump’s field of vision, assuming he ever meant it. Not least because of his own self-dealing — the hotel down the block, the failure to fully divorce himself from the Trump Organization, all the rest — the White House became ground zero for grasping lobbyists and ethically challenged, self-promoting staffers. So great was the back stabbing and chaos that, in July, Mr. Trump turned to an upright military figure, Retired Gen. John Kelly, to set things straight as chief of staff.

It has proved an impossible task. The tighter ship Mr. Kelly vowed to run seems to be springing ethical leaks almost daily, as more and more accounts surface of this or that official using public resources for private gain or crossing a line demarcating personal from government business.

On Monday, it emerged that at least six current and former top White House officials, including Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner; his daughter Ivanka Trump; and his chief economic adviser, Gary Cohn, have been using private email accounts at least sporadically for government business. This is both dumb and richly paradoxical when one considers that Mr. Trump has continued to attack Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email account and server as secretary of state, and has prodded his Justice Department to restart an inquiry that cleared her of criminal wrongdoing.

While the president whips up chants of “Lock her up”…

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