Icahn to Pruitt to Porter to Daniels et al. to Cohen to Trump, and Beyond

Trump Maladministration

Summarizing this Rachel Maddow segment would be too time consuming, so please watch the video. You can skip the first three minutes if you are short on time.

Before you lift your jaw off the floor, here’s a juicy bit Maddow left out. Samantha Dravis, the woman on the payroll who couldn’t be bothered to come to work, is a former girlfriend of Rob Porter.

Josh Marshall writes,

InsideEPA, an EPA trade sheet, reports that Scott Pruitt’s downfall is the work of disgraced former White House aide Rob Porter, who leaked damaging information about Pruitt to retaliate against a former girlfriend who told White House officials about Porter’s history of domestic violence.

As was basically reported at the time, Porter’s downfall seems to have started when a former girlfriend, Samantha Dravis, went to White House officials and told them what she knew about Porter’s past, particularly his abuse of two ex-wives. Dravis was a top aide to Scott Pruitt, the EPA Administrator. …

… Dravis’s resignation was announced earlier today.

There’s also a lot of new reporting about Michael Cohen’s business deals and how they might be interesting to Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Investigators were particularly interested in interactions involving Michael D. Cohen, Trump’s longtime personal attorney and a former Trump Organization employee. Among other things, Cohen was involved in business deals secured or sought by the Trump Organization in Georgia, Kazakhstan and Russia.

And what about the infamous $130,000 Cohen paid Stormy Daniels that Trump says he knew nothing about? It seems unlikely that Cohen just casually shelled out that much money out of his own pocket to any woman who claimed an affair with Trump.  That money had to come from somewhere. This suddenly puts the Daniels saga into the middle of the rest of Trump’s messes, and possibly connects to the Russian investigation if any of that hush money can be traced to overseas sources.

Finally, just to get a better idea of what a freak show the Trump Administration is, see “Rex Tillerson’s $12 million army of consultants.”

It was one of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s core goals: radically reshaping the State Department to make it leaner, cheaper and modernized to the standards of a former private-sector CEO.

Now that Tillerson has been fired, the vaunted “Redesign” initiative he launched faces an uncertain future, but at least one clear legacy: around $12 million spent just for private consultants who in some cases charged the State Department more than $300 an hour.

Yep; Tillerson had hired a bunch of pricey business consultants to come in and make the State Department more “efficient.” Yet Tillerson refused to work with anyone who had any experience with the State Department and appeared to not appreciate that it wasn’t Exxon, or even Procter & Gamble.

Congressional aides and former State Department officials noted that, despite months of work, Tillerson’s redesign initiative has had few, if any, tangible accomplishments. …

…Tillerson and his top aides “had disdain for the professionals,” one former senior State Department official said. “You had years of blueprints for reform developed internally, two QDDR documents, and thousands of career officers and civil servants who crave change and reform and would’ve been thrilled to work on this effort at no added taxpayer expense.”

“Instead,” the former official added, “they chose to lavish money on contractors and consultants who knew nothing about the organization.”

If you have ever worked for a company that hired outside consultants to “streamline” things, and the consultants turned out to be a pack of clueless empty (but very expensive) suits who spent no time talking to employees and whose recommendations totally bleeped up your department because the suits had no clue what your department even did when they issued their recommendations, you’ll appreciate this.

One State staffer on the redesign team complained about the Insigniam consultants in particular, saying they showed a poor grasp of how the State Department functions and little appreciation for diplomats’ training and experience. In one meeting with State Department employees last year, the staffer recalled, the Insigniam consultants puzzled their audience with an awkward attempt at explaining the importance of context in conversations.

“They would say something like, ‘If I said to you, ‘Get me some water,’ you’d know to get a cup and go to the sink and bring me back the water, but if you said that to someone in China, they might just scoop up some water from a puddle on the ground.’ And they said this to a room full of diplomats!” the staffer said. “It was painful. We were literally objecting to the way they were talking. We were trying to educate them on what we did so that they could actually help do the job they were hired to do.”

Yep. That’s what running the government like a business looks like.

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  1. Swami  •  Apr 6, 2018 @11:18 am

    Anybody need a laugh?….

    Trump: I ‘probably’ won’t attend White House correspondents' dinner

  2. ChrisB  •  Apr 6, 2018 @12:53 pm

    I have seen this in the private sector. A large corporation will hire an expensive outfit like Goldman Sachs or McKinsey to 'analyze' their organization and recommend changes to increase efficiency and profitability. In reality the CEO and his minions already know what they want to do, which usually involves layoffs and getting rid of executives they don't like. The employment of outside consultants is a cynical way to burnish their dirty work with a supposedly objective seal of approval. I wonder if Tillerson was dumb enough to think this process would actually work. If he just wanted to screw things up in the State Department, that would seem to be in line with the Trump approach to governance.

  3. maha  •  Apr 6, 2018 @1:20 pm

    Yeah, that too. My own experience with outside consultants is as a worker bee in the cube farm. The recommendations from the suits inevitably created bigger work flow problems and bottlenecks than we had dealt with before. And, of course, none of them ever bothered to ask the worker bees what we needed to do our jobs.

  4. rsginsf  •  Apr 6, 2018 @3:43 pm

    Our challenge now everywhere is that most of our systems and processes are aging faster than we can fix or re-make them. The requirements that they once addressed are changing and multiplying faster than we can keep up.

    I don't really think of diplomacy, though, as one of those systems or processes.

    'Move fast and break things,' Facebook's previous motto (until they discovered that broken things make customers unhappy) has been adopted & rewritten by Trump & Co. as 'Move fast, break things, make as much money as you can for yourself & your friends in the ensuing chaos, then either blame what breaks on your political opponents, or, if that's not possible, get rid of the thing that you broke & declare you won.'

    I went thru exactly this same scenario working in IT several years ago. The $200/hr consultants were called in to re-imagine, re-align, re-architect. We, the existing team, felt sidelined & threatened. The consultants left a year & $10 million later, leaving behind a system landscape more complicated & convoluted & change-resistant than ever. There were even 'come-in-close-the-door' manager's-office discussions about our loyalties. It's a humiliating, outrageous, and thoroughly demoralizing experience.

    I can't imagine it being inflicted on State Department diplomats & staff, esp. with the stakes at hand. Hard enough to do their jobs without having to worry about managing the arrogance, ignorance and stupidity of the politicians appointed to be their bosses.

  5. KC  •  Apr 6, 2018 @4:05 pm

    That reminds me of this:

  6. KC  •  Apr 6, 2018 @4:06 pm
  7. Dan  •  Apr 6, 2018 @4:56 pm

    Basically, we are screwed unless and until some significant fraction of the low information (Fox-viewing) voters step outside their protective bubble to take a look at the real world, while they are being pummeled on a daily basis not to look beyond the "Real [fake] News" provided as a public (and very expensive) service by the very same Fox disinformation campaign.

    And their technical abilities to connect with the disaffected are growing moment by moment…

    Not looking too good for anyone but the 0.01% anytime soon.

  8. Doug  •  Apr 6, 2018 @7:13 pm

    An interesting item to watch. Elijah Cummings asked Trey Gowdy to open an investigation into Pruitt after the EPA stonewalled on providing documents about the trips overseas – including the holiday that Madow documents. (stranded in Paris). Gowdy is not running for reelection – he's a former prosecutor who doesn't like being gaslighted. He's the ONLY Republican who saw the full FISA application which put Carter Page under a microscope. Only days after Gowdy got a look at the application, he announced he was not going to run. Gowdy is not Nunes. If Gowdy opens hearings, a procession of public complaints by current and former EPA people will do Pruitt in, I think.


  9. uncledad  •  Apr 6, 2018 @11:01 pm

    Permanent moderation is this, no point in being here (mahablog) any more, I asked for forgiveness but none was granted.: Goat, Gulag, Granni, Swami, Doug, its been real m-fer's


  10. maha  •  Apr 7, 2018 @12:29 pm

    Uncledad: I’m sorry you feel bad, but I always approve your comments when I find them in the moderation queue. And gulag gets stuck there a lot more than anyone else, for some reason. I have no control over who gets moderated.

  11. c u n d gulag  •  Apr 7, 2018 @1:03 pm

    There's a scandal in EACH and EVERY one of tRUMP's government's departments that makes the Teapot Dome scandal seem like a feeble fart in a Cat 5 hurricane!

  12. c u n d gulag  •  Apr 7, 2018 @1:19 pm


    Please don't go!!!  

    I'd miss the he'll outta you!  WE ALL WILL!

    You're smart and funny.  And correct!

    And besides, you, like Swami, goatherd, Doug (and occasionally me), are part of the wallpaper here.

    And how DARE you complain about being stuck in maha's twilight-zone-like twit-filter, when my comments practically have squaters-rights there!

    Don't go, please…

  13. aj  •  Apr 7, 2018 @1:28 pm

    Pruitt is the typical red state tool doing the bidding of the old energy sector. That is why we suffer so much in the hinterland.

    I want to see 100 women outside of Cohen's office every day saying "I had sex with donald,where's my 130,000?"

    How many abortions did donald pay for?

    What's in melania's prenuptial that concerns his behavior right after Barrons birth?

  14. goatherd  •  Apr 7, 2018 @3:04 pm

    I'm with them, Uncledad.  I always appreciate your comments and perspective.  When I read your comment this morning, I didn't know quite what to say, except that I was sure that you would be missed.

    I get caught in the filter fairly often.   I think it's because I tend to be long winded.  Half the time I think, "well, that was pretty obvious, why did I post that?"   Then I see that it's in moderation and I sigh with relief and the hope that maybe it will be considered too lame to inflict on the innocent.  Once in a while, it is.

    Thanks for the link to the song, "Sway."  I tend to get in a musical rut and I need a nudge once in a while.

    See you soon, I hope.


  15. goatherd  •  Apr 7, 2018 @3:46 pm

    I think ChrisB has something there.  I don't have the same depth of experience as the rest of you, but, the experience I do have is in accord.  I worked for non-profits most of the time. They can produce their own sort of trials, particularly when they try to mimic the for-profit world.

    We did have a refreshing departure in the form of a Ph.D candidate who was working on a dissertation on corporate culture.  His hypothesis was that enterprises were driven by people in their workforce who weren't necessarily in positions of power.  They kept things running true in various ways that wouldn't be reflected in the corporate matrix.  They would have to be productive, but,  co-operative and social functions would be just as important.

    He interviewed EVERYONE and spent a lot of time observing.  He named two people whom he thought were the primary "drivers."  Neither one was in upper management.  His study suggested that the contributions people made to the organization could be far above their pay grade.  I don't know what subsequent research might show, but, his study rang true.

    Now back to lifestyles of the rich and fatuous.

    I think one of the things that's reflected in the stunning level of corruption in this administration is the true meaning of "run like a business."  Trump has assembled a crew of big wigs who are used to milking their companies for every freebie and perk possible.  Their lifestyle is covered on their expense accounts.  Part of how wealthy people "grow their wealth" is by finding ways to make other people foot the bills.  Trump's crew is so wealthy that they probably have a difficult time  understanding how people could get upset over a paltry 100K here or there.  It's just pocket change to them, unless it has to come out of their pockets.  But, that would be unheard of, paying your own way is for the little people.


  16. grannyeagle  •  Apr 7, 2018 @4:02 pm

    Uncledad:  Sometimes I have gotten stuck in moderation and can't understand why and yes, I do wonder who some others don't get stuck more often.  Don't know why you get stuck more than you like but don't go away.  You do have something to contribute.  We are all friends here.

  17. Swami  •  Apr 7, 2018 @7:40 pm

    uncledad  …I've been permanently moderated for well over a year. I don't take it personal. When you are dispensing pure genius like I do with my comments the only possible explanation for being relegated to that state is some sort of a computer glitch. And aside from that it's a good exercise for countering the plague of instant gratification that consumes so much of our modern society. Hang in there!

  18. maha  •  Apr 7, 2018 @8:29 pm

    As I’ve said, I don’t have any control over who gets dumped into moderation. It’s a function of the admin platform. If I were to turn it off, the comments would be overwhelmed by spam. And I’m not always available to check in and clean out the queue. I think everyone who posts here regularly gets moderated sometime, but gulag is pretty much in moderation all the time. 🙂

  19. Swami  •  Apr 7, 2018 @11:15 pm

    "but gulag is pretty much in moderation all the time." 🙂

     And rightly so! That's the only way to control a crazy cossack.