Trump administration staff should never be blacklisted
There were many good people who worked under the last president. And would his critics really prefer it to be served only by MAGA?
Donald Trump no longer calls 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue home, but that hasn’t stopped his opponents from taking revenge. When the government collapsed in December and January, Trump’s die-hard critics began a crusade against his so-called “enablers”.
Stuart Stevens, a former Mitt Romney top strategist, tweeted that the anti-Trump-Lincoln project “built a database of Trump officials [and] Staff detailing their roles in the Trump administration [and] Keep track of where you are now. You will be held accountable [and] I can’t pretend they’re not involved. “Rick Wilson, co-founder of the Lincoln Project, later got cheerful Tweet, “It’s growing” after hearing about corporate-affiliated PACs suspending donations to House and Senate Republicans who voted against electoral college certification.
The explanation came shortly afterwards Forbes Editor Randall Lane sharply warned any company considering hiring ex-Trump spokespersons, saying it would signal that “everything your company or company talks about is a lie”. He vowed that the move would not break culture (what is rightly called a social nuisance), but only apply a high standard to liars.
It’s not the first time a group or politician has said that Trump supporters must be held accountable through a database or list.
Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren published a five-point plan during her presidential campaign last year to eradicate any remaining “corruption and incompetence” in the federal government. Warren sought a full house cleaning of all Trump politicians, not just of their positions but of any chance of getting involved in federal politics. One wonders if, despite her, Warren also met Lieutenant General of the Army Corps of Engineers, Scott Spellmon, the chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, Gen. Mark A. Milley, the director of the National Institutes of Health, Francis Collins, and the director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, includes pledges of continuity and protection of national security during the change of president.
But Warren’s suggestion didn’t stop there. She proposed a Justice Department task force to focus on looking for all forms of corruption within the Trump administration in hopes of restoring public confidence in the government. This would be an inquisition that has not been seen since the unfortunate campaign of Wisconsin Senator Joe McCarthy against the US Army in the 1950s.
Warren’s presidential quest failed, but the seeds she sowed remained. The short-lived Trump Accountability Project promised hellfire and brimstone to anyone who served in administration, campaigned for their campaigns, on the Republican National Committee, or served on boards, commissions, or the judiciary. Other targets included law firms that represented Trump and those that donated at least a thousand dollars. Their database included names like Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, but also stenographers, receptionists, and calligraphers (one of the calligraphers also worked for George W. Bush and Barack Obama).
The judges were named in the Trump Accountability Project database. One was approved by an almost outrageous 91-0 (!) Vote in the Senate with the support of Warren and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. Another received a 95-1 approval. A third received Senate approval 81-8 while a fourth 80-15 was confirmed. Why put them in a database if the Senate found them undisputed? Especially since federal judges focus more on the constitutionality of laws than on politics?
The problem with any type of database is the precedent. The Lincoln Project and like-minded anti-Trump groups must recognize that this is doing nothing to suppress polarization in Washington, DC, or across the country. Some of them – Meida’s touch springs to mind – possibly prefer Polarization in the face of their tweets accusing Republican senators of being Accomplices and traitor before Trump’s second impeachment trial.
New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made similar vague comments on “accountability” earlier this month on ABC News. I worry that this will only encourage Trump and Republican oriented groups to create their own “lists,” as seen on the One America News Network put the names of all Republican senators who voted for electoral college certification on a tombstone labeled “R.I.P.”
The other problem is that Washington is full of government employees and candidates who move from administration to administration regardless of politics. Robert Gates was Secretary of Defense in the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Ajit Pai and Mignon Clyburn served on the Federal Communications Commission during the Obama and Trump administrations.
Republicans and Democrats tend to use previous governments as guidance on setting up their own. There’s a reason the Biden administration includes several former Obama administration officials while there were several ex-Clinton alums in Obama’s first term. Trump’s administration contained some holdovers from George W. Bush, while the Bush administration contained many of George H.W. Bush veterans. These people are not traitors or enablers. You know how the federal government works.
It is entirely possible that some joined the Trump administration not because they believed in the MAGA agenda, but to keep it in check and promote better policies. This is the same Trump who signed a law reforming the judiciary, a move that is backed by both Republicans and Democrats. There is no point in putting these people on a list if there is no evidence of illegal behavior.
There is a time and place for accountability, be it at the ballot box or through the judicial system, when wrongdoing is proven. There is also nothing wrong with raising an eyebrow when someone like Stephen Miller or Steve Bannon works for or advises a campaign or organization. However, there were good people in the Trump administration who just wanted to serve their country and have a positive impact on the lives of others. I don’t think this new brand of McCarthyism will benefit anyone other than those who want to burn witches.
One last thing to consider. Would Never Trumpers prefer if there were only MAGA toads in the Trump administration? Or the ones who played the adults in the room so it wouldn’t become completely nightmarish?
Taylor Millard is a freelance writer based in Texas. His job was at HotAir, the Washington Examiner, and reason.