On Sunday, a cache of internal Trump transition vetting documents identifying “red flags” of individuals who would eventually be selected for administration positions were leaked to Axios. According to Axios, these documents are significant because they shed light on “the slap-dash way President Trump filled his cabinet and administration, and foreshadowed future scandals that beset his government.” This comes just days after the withdrawal of Patrick Shanahan to be Secretary of Defense over past domestic violence incidents raised bipartisan questions about the vetting process of the Trump White House.
While this story has helped perpetuate the narrative of incompetence and chaos in the Trump White House, for those of us who have a good memory, vetting issues are common in every administration. The Obama administration was also plagued by embarrassing vetting problems which resulted in nominees withdrawing — or even worse, not withdrawing — despite their red flags. I don’t recall the media working overtime to create the same narrative about Obama as they are about Trump now. They didn’t care then, and that’s why no one should care about this latest hit on Trump now.
It would be amusing to see the vetting documents from the Obama administration, and how the following individuals managed to survive Obama’s vetting process before being nominated or appointed to their positions.
15. Hilda Solis
The confirmation vote for Hilda Solis, Obama’s Labor secretary, was postponed when it was discovered her husband was a tax cheat who still owed $6,400 in tax liens from sixteen years prior. The Obama White House had no idea until it was reported by the media.
14. Nancy Killefer
Nancy Killefer withdrew her nomination to be Obama’s performance czar after reports revealed she had a nearly $1,000 lien on her property for failing to pay property taxes in 2005.
13. Charles Freeman
When Obama nominated Freeman as his director of the National Intelligence Council (NIC), even Nancy Pelosi objected to the pick. His ties to Saudi and Chinese interests, his anti-Israel positions, and his prior criticism of America’s “lack of introspection” about the 9/11 attacks regarding what “might have” caused them aroused so much opposition that Freeman had to withdraw his name from consideration.
12. Nawar Shora
Mr. Shora was a member of the fanatically anti-Semitic Arab-American Anti-Defamation Committee when Obama appointed him in 2010 as senior advisor to the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) on civil rights and civil liberties matters.
11. Van Jones
Van Jones was appointed as Obama’s green job czar in 2009 despite being an admitted radical communist with connections to nationalism and anarchism, a 9/11 truther, and a supporter of convicted cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal. He lasted in his position for about six months.
10. Cass Sunstein
Obama’s regulatory czar from 2009-2012 was an anti-hunting zealot who didn’t just want the government to ban hunting but also phase out meat consumption. He also believed that animals should have the right to sue in a court of law.
9. Kevin Jennings
Obama’s safe schools czar from 2009 to 2011 was a radical LGBTQ activist who founded the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) in 1990. His group promoted radical homosexual lesson plans and curricula in K-12 schools. As a high school teacher, Jennings also chose not to report the abuse of a boy by an older man, in violation of state law.
8. John Holdren
Obama’s science czar was an advocate of forced abortions and sterilization to curb overpopulation. He also believed in a “Planetary Regime” that would control all natural resources.
7. Adolfo Carrion
Obama’s urban czar pocketed thousands of dollars in kickbacks from developers in exchange for getting projects approved or funded with taxpayer dollars when he served as Bronx Borough president.
6. Vivek Kundra
Obama appointed Kundra as information czar in 2009, but apparently, his criminal history was not a red flag. When Kundra was 21 years old he shoplifted and evaded arrest. He was convicted of misdemeanor theft. Soon after starting his position at the White House, his former place of employment, the D.C. technology office, was raided by the FBI. Two of his former aides were arrested on a slew of charges, including bribery and taking kickbacks.
5. Ron Klain
Obama appointed this guy as his Ebola czar in 2014 after a massive outbreak of the Ebola virus killed thousands of people in West Africa. Obama’s vetting process was so poor they missed the fact that Klain was not a medical professional and had no expertise in infectious diseases and epidemiology.
4. Tom Daschle
Obama’s first pick to be his Health & Human Services secretary was former Senator Tom Daschle, who was forced to drop out after reports showed he failed to pay over $100,000 in income taxes. In the aftermath of Daschle’s withdrawal, Obama said he “screwed up.”
3. Kathleen Sebelius
After the Daschle debacle, Obama nominated Kathleen Sebelius for Health & Human Services secretary. Shortly after she testified before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, it was discovered she owed over $7,000 in back taxes. Obama had screwed up again, but Sebelius got confirmed anyway.
2. Bill Richardson
Who can say what was going on when New Mexico governor Bill Richardson was vetted during the Obama transition to be Obama’s Commerce secretary? Apparently, it was missed that Richardson was under federal investigation over his ties with a company doing business with his state. Obama nominated him, but Richardson was forced to withdraw his nomination before Obama took office.
1. Tim Geithner
Obama’s first Treasury secretary was tax cheat who failed to pay payroll taxes for several years on income he made working for the International Monetary Fund. This came up during his confirmation hearings, and Geithner famously blamed TurboTax software for his failure to pay nearly $43,000 in taxes. Nevertheless, he was confirmed.
Matt Margolis is the author of the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. His new book, Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy, will be published on July 30, 2019. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis