COMMENTARY

Former Trump officials' new career ventures suggest very little changed after leaving White House

Their business practices didn't progress much past the questionable tactics that haunted the Trump Administration

By Meaghan Ellis

Published October 17, 2021 4:30AM (EDT)

H.R. McMaster, Steve Mnuchin, Donald Trump, Jared Kushner (Getty/Zach Gibson)
H.R. McMaster, Steve Mnuchin, Donald Trump, Jared Kushner (Getty/Zach Gibson)

This article originally appeared on AlterNet.

Now that former President Donald Trump's reign is over, the members of his administration have been forced to take their careers in different directions. So, where are the members of the Trump administration now? According to The Intelligencer, many are doing an array of different things; some of which are synonymous with the questionable activities that long-haunted the Trump Administration.

Here's where the top Trump White House officials are now:

1. Former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is still trying to distance himself from the kidnapping of Julian Assange. According to Pompeo, he had nothing to do with it.

Pompeo is adamantly denying any involvement in the plot to kidnap Assange. A report published by Yahoo! News back in September, suggested that Pompeo was livid when he learned Assange divulged U.S. national-security secrets. In fact, the report also claimed that he participated in discussions with members of the Trump administration on how to get retribution.

However, Pompeo is still suggesting the reports are not true. "There's pieces of it that are true," Pompeo said during an appearance on The Megyn Kelly Show. "We tried to protect American information from Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, absolutely, yes … We're not permitted by U.S. law to conduct assassinations. We never acted in a way that was inconsistent with that."


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2. Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has been milking his access to the Secret Service.

Thanks to Trump's order extending the use of the Secret Service to members of his administration, Mnuchin has used the professional perk to his benefit. The publication reports that in his first six months out of office, Mnuchin has racked up the highest Secret Service tab. The Washington Post detailed how Mnuchin managed to rack up more than $150,000 in Secret Service expenses:

The receipts showed that agents spent $114,000 over the six months to rent rooms at a W Hotel in Los Angeles, where Mnuchin has a home. They also followed Mnuchin on three trips to the Middle East, where Mnuchin is reportedly seeking to raise money from sovereign wealth funds for a new venture called Liberty Strategic Capital…

Mnuchin's travels with the Secret Service weren't all business, however. Over the six months, the records show three separate trips to Cabo San Lucas — the Mexican resort, where Mnuchin had also vacationed during Trump's presidency.

To guard Mnuchin during those three trips, the records show, the Secret Service paid $56,000 for hotel rooms and $2,000 to rent golf carts.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Mnuchin is planning to use the $2.5 billion he has raised traveling so he can invest in technology and cybersecurity investments, along with "new forms of content." It remains unclear what Mnuchin specifically describes as "new forms of content" but "many big tech companies are pushing virtual- and augmented-reality hardware and content products and digital gaming."

3. Wilbur Ross is reportedly fantasizing about putting "Trump condos on the moon."

Back in February after the Trump administration transitioned out of the White House, Ross spoke with Bloomberg and shared his upcoming post-government plans; which involve "Trump condos on the moon."

On this particular afternoon, he's sitting in the living room of his 80-year-old home filled with Magrittes and Picassos, sipping a cappuccino, dressed in cashmere sweater, slacks and velvet slippers embroidered with octopuses.

Ironically, it's while ensconced in this paradise of earthly delights that Ross is gearing up to invest in space, among other possibilities. He sees opportunity in extraterrestrial tourism, manufacturing, research and habitation.

Habitation? When asked whether space would be a gold-plated real estate opportunity for Trump, Ross didn't disagree.

"Why not Trump condos on the moon?" he quipped back.

Ross' remarks came just months after the U.S. Commerce Department's inspector general released a scathing report about the former Trump official's behavior. According to The Washington Post, the IG's report "concluded that Ross had made many inaccurate statements to federal officials about his assets before taking office, though he did not willfully violate conflict-of-interest laws."

4. Ben Carson is launching a venture similar to Boy Scouts of America.

After departing Washington, D.C., Ben Carson —the former Housing and Urban Development Secretary— launched an organization called the American Cornerstone Institute. Carson's new think tank reportedly places an emphasis on discovering "commonsense solutions to some of our nation's biggest problems."

Carson has also created the Little Patriots program, which is described as a partisan organization for children. Speaking to The Washington Post, Carson explained the organization's initiative. "It will be something like the Boy Scouts," Carson told the publication. "But heavily exposed to the real history of America.

"You probably notice when ISIS goes into a place, they destroy the history, they destroy the monuments," Carson explained. "History is what gives you identity."

5. Elaine Chao contributed to calls for Kroger to be boycotted.

Chao —wife of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and former transportation secretary— worked for several of the country's top corporations prior to her role with the Trump administration. But Intelligencer reports that "she and other Trump Cabinet alums were having a hard time finding cushy landing spots after exiting the administration. 'The feedback was 'It's too soon,' said one of the headhunters involved in an unsuccessful effort to find companies willing to work with Chao."

Despite her struggles to re-enter the corporate world, Chao was appointed to Kroger's board of directors. But given her history of abusing her power and position with the government, social media users quickly expressed outrage and urged Kroger to drop the former Trump cabinet member from its board.

6. Alex Azar is reportedly conspiring against his former colleagues.

Former Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar is at odds with many of his former colleagues. In fact, several of them including —former FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn, former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) director Robert Redfield, former Medicare chief Seema Verma, and former White House COVID coordinator Deborah Birx— have reportedly joined forces to prepare their statements regarding the Trump administration's handling of COVID-19.

According to Politico, they've done so out of caution and concern about Azar possibly using them as "scapegoats" to clear themselves.

"I know the way this goes — everyone has a different perspective," Hahn said in an interview. "I wanted to tell what it was that happened and why it happened and the perspective that we had."

In calls and text messages, members of the group have swapped notes, compared recollections, and sent updates on media requests and interview opportunities, four people with knowledge of the matter said …

And in a nod to their individual battles with Azar, some have jokingly referred to the group in private as "AAA," or Alex Azar Anonymous, according to a person in direct contact with multiple members.

From the looks of it, many Trump administration officials are still conducting shady business as they did while in office.


Meaghan Ellis

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