President Donald Trump, the first president in the history of the United States to be impeached twice, packed a lot of controversies into his one term in office — and quite a few messes involved Long Islanders. Here’s 10, including a few involving those with East End homes.
Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman who pleaded guilty to conspiracy and witness tampering in 2018 as part of the federal probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election, forfeited his $2 million Bridgehampton mansion before being sentenced to 7 1/2 years in federal prison. Trump pardoned Manafort last month, sparing the long-time Republican operative from serving the bulk of his prison term.
The Trump administration’s many ethical violations are well documented. Among the conflicts of interest was Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who has a house in Southampton, telling Axios in 2017, “I’m not allowed to promote anything that I’m involved in, but you should send all your kids to LEGO Batman.” His company financed the film. He later acknowledged, “I should not have made that statement.”
Key to helping Trump get elected was reclusive billionaire political mega-donor, former co-CEO of Setauket-based hedge fund Renaissance Technologies, and Head of The Harbor resident Robert Mercer. He co-founded Cambridge Analytica, the political consulting firm that abused Facebook data to help Trump’s 2016 campaign.
Trump’s first White House spokesman, Sean Spicer, who infamously started his first day on the job by stating that the president’s inauguration was the most-attended presidential swearing-in ceremony ever, despite photos proving the contrary, was born in Manhasset. Providing the crowd photos in question was then-acting director of the National Park Service Michael Reynolds, a former Fire Island National Seashore superintendent.
When Trump visited the Suffolk County police academy in 2017, the department rebuffed the president when he encouraged officers to rough up suspects. “When you guys put somebody in the car and you’re protecting their head…you can take the hand away, okay?” Trump told officers. “The SCPD has strict rules & procedures relating to the handling of prisoners,” the agency tweeted shortly after the speech. “Violations of those rules are treated extremely seriously.”
Anthony Scaramucci, who was White House spokesman for 11 days in 2017 — tying for the shortest tenure in that title — was raised in Port Washington. He was fired days after he was quoted bashing Trump administration officials in a The New Yorker story based on an interview he said he thought was off the record. He’s since become an outspoken Trump critic.
TIMES PROBES TRUMP’S TAXES
After the president refused to release his tax returns, breaking decades of precedent, The New York Times exposed in 2018 the president’s role in an allegedly fraudulent tax scheme, which involved several properties on LI. The newspaper’s Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation detailed how Trump squandered hundreds of millions of dollars he inherited from his father, countering the president’s well-worn claim of building his empire from a $1 million loan.
SOMETHING ABOUT MARY
Mary Trump, President Donald Trump’s niece from Rockville Centre, later revealed she was the source of the tax documents used in the Times‘ investigation when she published a scathing tell-all book about her uncle. The book, Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man, marked the first time one of his family members aired his dirty laundry. Mary later backed up the sourcing for her book by releasing recordings of Trump’s sister, former federal judge Maryanne Trump Barry, calling the president a cruel, phony liar with “no principles.”
The president’s former personal attorney, Lawrence native Michael Cohen, who was released early from federal prison last year due to coronavirus concerns, had pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations, tax fraud, and bank fraud for, among other things, paying hush money to porn stars with whom Trump allegedly had affairs. In September, he also published the tell-all Disloyal: A Memoir: The True Story of the Former Personal Attorney to President Donald J. Trump. He now hosts a podcast dedicated to analyzing Trump’s latest antics.
WAVE OF RESIGNATIONS
U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, a Syosset High School graduate, announced her resignation last week, the first Cabinet member to join a list of Trump administration officials administration who are leaving in protest at the storming of the U.S. Capitol by his supporters. Chao, the wife of Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), said in an email to staff that the deadly mob attack “has deeply troubled me in a way that I simply cannot set aside.”