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This Week: Kris Kobach Auditions, Unsuccessfully, For Swamp Monster

May 23, 2019 6:18 p.m.

HuffPost on Wednesday tallied the cost of Trump’s dozens of golf trips at over $100 million dollars, primarily due to fuel and maintenance for Air Force One and the fleet of support vehicles in its wake, but also accounting for dollars that go directly into the President’s pocket: Mar-a-Lago bar tabs and venue rentals, for example.

Though, regrettably, he will not rejoin the Trump administration and provide fodder for this column, former Kansas secretary of state Kris Kobach earns a mention for the leaked list of perks he wanted if he were to be the government’s “immigration czar.”

The list reads like a Trump Swamp CliffsNotes: Constant government jet access (to fly to the border, and to fly home to Kansas), the highest available White House pay, an order from the President that several Senate-confirmed Cabinet members follow Kobach’s commands, and the promise of a Cabinet nomination — DHS — himself.

Trump picked former Virginia Governor Ken Cuccinelli for the job instead. Reporters speculated that the leaked list of Kobach’s demands was part of someone’s underhanded effort to sabotage Kobach. (“I don’t like the optics,” the President said in late 2017 as one of the first private-flight-related scandals of his administration began to consume Health Secretary Tom Price’s Google search results. Price resigned minutes later.)

Fortunately for Kobach, he has another project to keep him busy: “We Build The Wall,” the GoFundMe effort that’s raised $20 million and counting to begin building Trump’s border wall independent of government. Kobach, Steve Bannon and other culture warriors serve as board members for the citizen-powered border wall effort, and their expertise is needed now more than ever, as donors seek proof — any proof — that they haven’t been bilked into supporting an impossible dream.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said Wednesday that plans to put Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill have been delayed for years by… security concerns. He did not mention the President’s infatuation with the current bill, nor the President’s contention that swapping Andrew Jackson for Tubman is “pure political correctness.”

Two swamp creatures bring up the rear:

David Dunlap was head of regulatory policy for Koch Industries, the company of libertarian billionaires Charles and David Koch. Then, of course, he started working at the Environmental Protection Agency.

It would cost Dunlap’s former employer a lot of money if the EPA classified formaldehyde as a known carcinogen. The EPA, when Dunlap arrived, had released a draft study showing the chemical to be exactly that. The same day that the EPA removed the formaldehyde from the list of chemicals evaluated by its central risk assessment group — therefore delaying any final results significantly — Dunlap submitted a letter “voluntarily” recusing himself from issues involving the chemical. The watchdog group Project on Government Oversight has the story here.

Finally, the New York Times’ Eric Lipton flags a complaint lodged against Stephen Vaughn, at one point the acting U.S. trade representative and now a general counsel to the representative. Vaughn was formerly a lawyer for U.S. Steel — and, like a growing number of his administration colleagues, Lipton found he met with his former clients while in office.

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