Home » Opinion | Trump’s O.G. Henchmen Would Like a Word With America

Opinion | Trump’s O.G. Henchmen Would Like a Word With America


Have you all noticed the Republican stars and wannabes showing up at Donald Trump’s trial? Speaker Mike Johnson; Senators J.D. Vance and Rick Scott; Gov. Doug Burgum of North Dakota; Texas’ attorney general, Ken Paxton; the professional irritant Vivek Ramaswamy … the G.O.P. is clearly eager to show it is standing by its man.

For its part, Team Trump may just be happy to have some respectable, unindicted players on Mr. Trump’s side.

OK, Mr. Paxton doesn’t strictly meet those criteria, but you get my point. A man is known by the company he keeps. And of the many sordid ways Mr. Trump sets himself apart, his crew of henchmen is a doozy. Several have been slouching back into the limelight of late, underscoring just what kind of ethics-’n-integrity we’d get in Trump II.

Michael Cohen deserves top billing with his juicy court appearances this week, as Mr. Trump’s former fixer shared the nitty-gritty of how to keep your boss’s alleged extramarital encounters from blowing up a presidential campaign. But then there’s Steve Bannon, who just suffered another setback in his ongoing legal drama. Rudy Giuliani lost a gig. And Paul Manafort — talk about a blast from the past! — hit a snag while trying to wriggle his way back into the political arena.

Revisiting these guys and their antics is like stumbling across a hinky septic tank. You want to get clear of the stench as swiftly as possible. But it is important to stop and smell the sewage. With Mr. Trump having been out of office for a few years, it is all too easy for people to lapse into nostalgia and forget the degree to which he surrounds himself with grifters, thugs and skeezeballs.

This is hardly surprising when you consider Mr. Trump’s own moral fiber, or lack thereof. (Game recognizes game!) But voters used to judge candidates partly by the people they hired and hung around with. Mr. Trump’s ability to escape serious guilt by association, including when the associates are misbehaving explicitly at his behest or to save his backside, is among his most … impressive talents.

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