Ethics violations—involving the illegal acceptance of Saudi Arabian gifts ostensibly made from endangered species but later revealed to be cheap fakes—seem like the Trumpiest story ever. All that’s missing is a bone saw, a koi pond’s worth of meat sweats, and a Fiat-sized heap of pulverized Adderall.
While norm-breaking and questionable ethical decisions were basically the lifeblood of the Trump administration, this story is particularly egregious given the elements noted above. Then again, it’s often difficult to suss out Trumpian incompetence from Trumpian rule-breaking, given that Trump is a 10th-level sensei at both. I suppose the difference is that when an action is merely unethical, Trump incompetently tries to cover it up; when it’s rank incompetence, he proudly shouts it to the rafters—as in, “How ‘bout we try killing COVID-19 with our new state-of-the-art ass-lamps?”
The New York Times has uncovered some … let’s call it “impropriety” … involving gifts accepted from foreign interests during the woebegone Trump years—most notably during Trump’s first trip abroad, when the Saudis gave Trump and his entourage “dozens” of gifts, including three robes allegedly made with white tiger and cheetah fur and a dagger with a supposedly ivory handle.
According to the Times, “little that followed went right.”