Donald Trump was about to deport an alleged rapist at the request of one of his rich Republican cronies — but the man's membership at one of Trump's resorts helped save him.
Donald Trump started his presidential campaign vowing to deport rapists and other criminals. But there's one alleged criminal whose membership at Trump's Mar-a-Lago helped convince Trump he should be allowed to stay in the United States.
The entire episode highlights how corruption, and the access that comes with corruption, has become standard operating procedure in the Trump administration.
Chinese businessman Guo Wengui has been in a back and forth with the Chinese government. He has accused several officials of corruption, while China has been investigating him for numerous offenses including bribery, kidnapping, fraud, money laundering, and rape.
Guo is currently in New York and has applied for asylum within the United States.
Trump — who has also threatened to greatly reduce the number of immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers in the United States — first learned about Guo when he was handed a "letter that Steve brought" from the Chinese government at a private dinner at the White House.
The carrier was Steve Wynn, the casino mogul who relies on the Chinese government giving his company a license to operate in the Chinese territory of Macau for a property worth billions.
Wynn is also the finance chairman for the Republican National Committee. According to the Wall Street Journal, Trump said, after reading the letter, "We need to get this criminal out of the country."
But Trump changed his mind when his aides informed him that Guo is a member of Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.
Aides wanted to dissuade Trump from deporting Guo as a favor to "Steve" by also suggesting that Guo could be used as a bargaining chip in future discussions with China. That Guo has also put at least $100,000 for his membership initiation fee, plus another $14,000 in annual dues, into Trump's pocket might also have played a significant role in his decision.
The entire sordid episode highlights just how susceptible Trump is to corruption, apparently quick to make decisions based on his business relationships and his own personal bottom line.
His willingness to bypass traditional diplomatic avenues is alarming, and has contributed to Republicans publicly expressing concern about Trump undermining and "castrating" his own secretary of state, who called Trump a "moron."
It also shows that Trump's aides know full well that invoking Mar-a-Lago is an effective way of persuading him to follow their advice. Trump uses the resort and his other properties as a pipeline to generate money for his personal accounts, even as he sits in the Oval Office representing America. He refuses to divest from his company, which makes it easy to trade money for access and favors.
No matter what the final outcome of the Guo case is, no matter the parties involved in swaying Trump's position, they all know that he is more than willing to give a leg up to whoever will give him a handout.
It is corruption in its purest form.