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‘A five-bell alarm’: Ex-GOP Senator slams Trump’s apparent pay-to-play ambassadorship

11/18/2019 7:37 pm ET Dara Brewton
'Stop selling government posts': Elizabeth Warren condemns pay-to-play ambassadorships

Screenshot / CBS

A new investigation has uncovered that Trump’s U.S. ambassadors may be paying-to-play. When this possible scheme was brought to the attention of Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), she suggested that someone should tell the President to “stop selling government posts.”

The issue was uncovered by a CBS News investigation that found suspicious emails between the RNC and Doug Manchester, a billionaire nominee for ambassador to the Bahamas.

Manchester, who goes by the name “Papa Doug,” donated one million dollars to the President’s inauguration fund. He was offered the ambassador post the day after Trump took office. However, his nomination stalled out until Hurricane Dorian.

Papa Doug made a generous donation of supplies to the Caribbean country which he delivered in his personal private jet. This bit of charity prompted Trump to recognize him on Twitter:

Three days later, Ronna McDaniel, the RNC Chairwoman, reached out to Manchester for a donation. The email, which was obtained by CBS News, asked, “Would you consider putting together $500,000 worth of contributions from your family to ensure we hit our ambitious fundraising goal?”

Papa Doug’s response:

“As you know I am not supposed to do any, but my wife is sending a contribution for $100,000. Assuming I get voted out of the [Foreign Relations Committee] on Wednesday to the floor we need you to have the majority leader bring it to a majority vote…. Once confirmed, I our [sic] family will respond!”

He copied the staffers of two senators, Rand Paul (R-KY) and Jim Risch (R-ID), in his email. Since both of these senators were in control of his nomination, it makes it seem like he was copying them in order to show, as CBS News says, “his willingness to donate more after confirmation.”

When questioned whether this was a pay-to-play scenario, Manchester acknowledged claimed that is “not the facts.” Allegedly his wife “gave out of separate funds” because she “loves Donald Trump.”

But ex-Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) told CBS, “I can only tell you that if I received an email like that, there would have been a five-bell alarm that went off.”

Corker, who was the chair of the Senate’s foreign relations committee before he retired in January, held up Manchester’s nomination.

Corker, who chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee before he left office in January, did not think much of Manchester as a plausible ambassador in the first place: “We had concerns about judgment, about demeanor, about just the whole reason for taking the job.” That’s why Corker held up his nomination.

The RNC released a statement about the emails avowing that they were not suggesting a donation would “more quickly advance his confirmation.” They also called out Manchester’s response calling it “totally inappropriate.”

Manchester isn’t the only big Trump donor to be offered or even given an ambassadorship. Several others have coughed up cash for the President as well.

  • Ambassador Woody Johnson and Ambassador Jamie McCourt each donated hundreds of thousands to Trump’s reelection campaign
  • Ambassador Robin Bernstein and Ambassador Lana Marks are both members at Mar-a-Lago
  • European Union Ambassador Gordon Sondland donated $1 million to Trump’s inauguration

While it is customary for roughly 1/3 of a president’s ambassadorships to be given to political supporters, nearly half of Trump’s picks have been supporters.

Senator Warren condemned the practice telling CBS News:

“Government posts are not for sale to rich people. We should pick our ambassadors and heads of agencies and people who are going to help lead this government overseas based on their qualifications not based on a check that they write for a half million dollars. Donald Trump should be told in no uncertain terms: Stop selling government posts.”

The Trump administration keeps getting swampier and swampier.


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