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Add Cash Grab to Land Grab as Trump’s Border Wall Obsession Encapsulates Trump’s Presidency
Earlier this fall, after Trump announced plans to raid $3.6 billion from 127 different military construction projects to try and fund his border wall, we highlighted that the news and larger obsession on display was a “perfect encapsulation of the Trump presidency.” As we assessed, the wall obsession reflected Trump’s authoritarian and anti-democratic approach to governance; his racist and xenophobic political motivations that drove his actions; and his ongoing reliance on flat-out lies and mendacity (for example, insisting that he was following through on his pledge and trying to spin the fiction that Mexico was paying for the wall as he promised).
Given ongoing wall-related news in recent weeks, we need to add “cronyism” to the list as well as another way Trump’s border wall obsession encapsulates his presidency. A firm whose Trump-praising CEO is a presidential favorite has been awarded a contract for wall construction despite its initial bid not meeting standards. This on the heels of the news that Jared Kushner’s “new assignment” is overseeing wall construction, including seizing private land from border landowners.
According to Douglas Rivlin, Director of Communication for America’s Voice:
Cronyism and steering government funds to fellow developers is an important hallmark of Trump’s presidency and Trump’s pre-presidential life. And just like his racism, mendacity, and authoritarian streak, it’s perfectly embodied in his ongoing border wall obsession and related scheming. It’s not Mexico paying for the wall; it’s the American taxpayers and at the expense of other real policy priorities. And it’s Trump’s friends and supporters who are reaping the taxpayer rewards. So, here we are; Trump’s son-in-law is in charge of taking land from private owners and bulldozing wildlife habitat in order to pay Trump’s friends with fat government contracts.
See the Washington Post article, “North Dakota company that Trump touted gets $400 million border wall contract,” for more details (excerpted below):
A company that President Trump urged military officials to hire for border wall construction has been awarded a $400 million contract to build a span of new barrier across an Arizona wildlife refuge, according to a Defense Department announcement Monday. North Dakota-based Fisher Sand and Gravel won the contract to build in the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge in Yuma County, Ariz…
Trump has repeatedly pushed for Fisher to get a wall-building contract, urging officials with the Army Corps of Engineers to pick the firm — only to be told that Fisher’s bids did not meet standards. Trump’s entreaties on behalf of the company have concerned some officials who are unaccustomed to a president getting personally involved in the intricacies of government contracting.
Additionally, an earlier CNN story highlighted that Fisher has a “checkered legal record” and a history of environmental and tax fines and violations.