A Second Trump Term Would Replace Competent Corrupt People with Incompetent Ones

Steve Neukam is one of the Messenger scribes who often chases Dick Pics with little care for the actual evidence.

In the middle of a paragraph quoting an anonymous Republican saying that Republicans don’t even need direct financial ties to Joe Biden to impeach him, for example, Neukam treats the factual explanation that Republicans are trying to impeach Joe Biden based on loans he made to his family while a private citizen as a brush-off.

The source close to Trump also said Comer “set the bar too high” for an impeachable offense, attempting to prove a direct payment to Joe Biden in the probe. The investigation spent weeks rolling out payments to Joe Biden from Hunter Biden and James Biden, the president’s son and brother, which the White House and Biden allies brushed off as loan repayments. Proving a direct payment to the president, the source said, was not necessary. [my emphasis]

But by being a committed Dick Pic Sniffer, Neukam has hit paydirt with a story quoting a slew of MAGAts trying to blame James Comer, and James Comer exclusively, that Republicans haven’t even succeeded in the single thing they tried to do with their House majority last year: Impeach Joe Biden.

Comer has led a”clueless investigation” at best and — at worst — “a disaster.”

“It’s been a parade of embarrassments.”


“James Comer continues to embarrass himself and House Republicans. He screws up over and over and over,” the source said. “I don’t know how Republicans actually impeach the president based on his clueless investigation and lack of leadership.”


“It seems like they got played by Hunter Biden,” one senior House GOP aide said. “It was a disaster. They looked like buffoons.”

Behind these hilarious quotes, however, is a particular power structure, one that is actually far more telling than the quotes.

The same article that claims that Comer’s problem is that he was picked because of his fundraising prowess…

“This is why we shouldn’t pick our chairman based on how much money they raise,” another member told Moskowitz, according to the congressman.

… Has these two deliciously contradictory claims about Mike Johnson’s impotence, a Speaker picked in spite of his non-existing fundraising record.

The Republican lawmaker who took his complaints of Comer to the speaker’s office was told that Johnson is aware of the problem, agrees with the criticism but can’t really do much other than watch and shake his head, the lawmaker told The Messenger.


Top House Republicans stand next to Comer amid the intra-party criticism. Johnson told The Messenger that he is “fully supportive” of the chairman’s work.

“I am grateful for the superb efforts of Chairman Comer,” the speaker said in a statement to The Messenger. “Without his and the other investigators’ work, we wouldn’t have uncovered the millions in foreign funds going to the Biden family, the dozens of exchanges between the President and Hunter Biden’s clients, and the litany of lies the White House has told.”

Meanwhile, at least some of the people griping are people close to Trump venting because the House GOP hasn’t delivered on Trump’s demands.

Twice-impeached Trump himself threatened House Republicans in August to impeach Biden “or fade into OBLIVION.”


“You have to start producing,” a Trump ally said. “The base is starting to get more and more frustrated with him because they see all this smoke but they don’t see the movement.”

It is virtually certain that many of the Republicans quoted here (with the possible exception of Jim Jordan’s chief counsel Steve Castor) suffer from the very same problems James Comer has faced in this investigation. They’re incompetent. They exist in a Fox/Newsmax bubble that rewards feral loyalty, incompetence, and lies. When exposed to any real scrutiny, those lies crumble.

You won’t find them reflecting on whether their own false claims have contributed to the hilarity of Comer’s failures. Amid increasing concerns that Republicans will lose the House in November, they’re busy passing the blame, even while they ignore an even bigger underlying problem.

One reason this impeachment has failed, thus far, is because they’re pursuing impeachment for the sake of impeachment. One reason this impeachment has failed, thus far, is because the House GOP has dedicated their entire first year to delivering whatever Trump demanded, when he demanded it, irrespective of whether it served their own interests or was justified by anything but Trump’s petulant demands.

Of course, none of the Republicans quoted here (Neukam also relies on Jared Moskowitz’s second-hand claims about what Republicans have told him) would admit they’re no different than Comer. They could do no better.

The Republicans on these committees have, like Comer, gleefully made false claims about smoking guns for which they had no evidence, for example. These Republicans continue to chase every one of Comer’s new diversions, in hope somewhere there’ll be evidence.

This is the persistent problem with claims — renewed today from the NYT team — that Trump will use DOJ to pursue partisan retribution.

[Maggie] He and his allies have also been clear that a big agenda item is eroding the Justice Department’s independence.

Charlie: Yes, Trump has vowed to use his power over the Justice Department to turn it into an instrument of vengeance against his political adversaries. This would end the post-Watergate norm that the department carries out criminal investigations independently of White House political control, and it would be a big deal for American-style democracy.

He already did this!!! No matter how many times NYT claims this would be a new development, none of it can eliminate the evidence that Trump’s focus on retribution began when he ordered investigations into Hillary and John Kerry under Jeff Sessions and accelerated as Bill Barr tried to find ways to charge Hillary and other Democrats for Trump’s efforts to cozy up to Russia. These efforts continue, with wild success, as Trump’s demands for a Hunter Biden investigation finally bore fruit.

As people consider the dangers of a second Trump term — and make no mistake, it could end American democracy — they need to consider whether incompetent corrupt partisans like James Comer will be any more effective than what Bill Barr already tried. Hell, under Barr, DOJ altered evidence to attempt to implicate Joe Biden in Trump’s corruption. John Durham fabricated a claim to impugn Hillary, but still couldn’t make charges against her attorney stick.

The difference — the one place where Comer, and to a much greater degree, Jim Jordan — have succeeded where Barr did not is not in the quasi-legal outcome. Rather, it is in ginning up threats against — seemingly — every single adverse witness.

The incompetent corrupt people that Trump is relying on while disavowing his past competent agents of retribution are really really good at one thing: Sowing political violence. But it’s not clear they’d be any better at politicizing DOJ than Trump already managed.

34 replies
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  2. SelaSela says:

    I am terrified of the possibility of a second Trump term. When Trump was elected for the first term, I was really concerned. It turned up it was worse than I feared. His second term, if he does get elected (which seem to be a real possibility), might be worse by a magnitude because we would no longer have the checks and balances we had in his first term. Some people like to talk about “Trump Derangement Syndrome”, a term I strongly dislike. It’s not derangement if the threat is real.

    Unfortunately, I couldn’t figure out yet how to explain the dangers of Trump when talking to people who consider voting for him. Even when talking with “soft” Trump supporters.

    • Marinela says:

      Unfortunately, I couldn’t figure out yet how to explain the dangers of Trump when talking to people who consider voting for him. Even when talking with “soft” Trump supporters.

      You are not the only one. Look at the media, they cannot do this either.

      Trump supporters, many have a hidden motive why they are supporting Trump, but this is not going to come up in conversations. I friend of us, smart guy, his son worked for Michele Bachman campaign, he is big Trump supporter now.
      Financial interests are always behind some of the motivations. GOP congress people need to win re-election, they have mortgages to pay, and no other skills, so they are going to support Trump if that is getting MAGA base to vote for them.

      Trump is really good on taking advantage of the current system, dividing and controlling.

      A system when Trump can easily become the GOP nominee in 2024, and then in general election, in a two party system he has 50/50 chance to get elected. I would say the system is not bulletproof of preventing the election of false prophets.

      • Swamp Thing says:

        As someone who lives in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, confines friendly to the likes of Steve Scalise and David Duke, I consider myself a grunt in the war against dis- and misinformation. I can’t lay claim to possession of anything close to the amount of information displayed regularly by the august body of commenters on this website, but you guys are the brass and I’m just a private.
        I think I’ve found at least one pathway toward the dismantling of false beliefs professed by working people who fall for the lies of Donald Trump.
        Call the man what he is- a punk. It’s a word that stops them in their tracks. For common, undereducated people, it ranks with child molester as one of the worst types of people. It almost forces them to listen to what you say next. Then hit them with a list of definitions, all describing a punk:
        He has never worked a hard day in his life.
        He thinks he’s better than you because he was born rich.
        He assaults women.
        He’s a bully.
        He starts fights and gets other people to do the fighting.
        He can’t admit that he’s wrong.
        He can’t admit that he lost.
        He is always whining.
        He always blames others when things go wrong.
        (Of course, this not a complete list.)
        The fact of the matter is that he truly is a punk. Simple people use simple arguments and simple arguments require simple tactics. With enough repetition, the idea of Donald Trump as a punk will sink in (to at least some). In terms of actually persuading anyone, I can’t say that I’ve been hugely successful with this approach but just mentioning the word always forces them to listen, and I’m just another guy on the street, not an authority figure.

        (Moderators: I would like to change my screen name to Swamp Thing if it’s allowed. I really didn’t like my first name change)

        [Moderator’s note: Name change noted, make this one permanent. Avoid entering anything in the Website/URL field, thanks. /~Rayne]

    • TheWombat says:

      “Some people like to talk about “Trump Derangement Syndrome”, a term I strongly dislike. It’s not derangement if the threat is real.”

      But that’s the point. It “triggers” you, and it’s their way of attacking the meanings of words so that signal is impossible to find within the noise and good people just give up.

      I (unfortunately without much effect) play their own game with them. I insist that TDS means and has _always_ meant a derangement where one cannot see Trump’s flaws, lies, or threats and one wrongly believes that he actually deeply cares about America. Because games aside, that IS the actual derangement.

      • derelict says:

        i tend to use ‘trump denial syndrome’, as most supporters seem to be in complete denial of his collection of character flaws, up to and including the lies and manipulation

        your assessment of how the phrase gained popularity is spot on, just as with a host of others. ‘woke’ comes to mind as an emotionally loaded word reduced to a simple blanket pejorative.

    • Yohei1972 says:

      Part of the difficulty of explaining Trump’s dangers is that many of the things he and his circle do (and want to do) are so outrageous that if you simply describe them in straightforward and accurate terms, you can sound to the unconvinced like a conspiratorial ranter. I’ve encountered this online numerous times – “Why would Trump do that? That would be stupid/crazy!” Well… yes.

  3. Fraud Guy says:

    It doesn’t matter if they are competent (at first) to achieve Trump’s goals. If Republicans hold all the levers of power: Presidency, Congress, Supreme Court; and are backed by corporations happy to take advantage of “tax cuts!”, they can substitute power for competency.

    Sure, a case may be mismanaged by a corrupted DOJ. Enough pressure and a corrupted judge can make it wind up the way they want. Then appeals will end up before a corrupted appeals court, and a corrupted Supreme Court, and the mismanaged case was a success.

    Even when it comes to regulations; substitute enough professional beaurocrats with hacks, as they are already planning on doing, and the regulations will mean what they want them to mean when they are challenged, either when being added or removed.

    The fools and their incompetence are a sideshow to their accumulation of power; so long as retain it, they can be as incompetent as they want, and attrit away the competent and ethical and professional and moral people who oppose them.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      A tad reductionist. Even the powerful want what they want when they want it, and that takes some measure of competence, more than that in the midst of chaos. Chaos alone won’t cut it.

      • Fraud Guy says:

        A tad…but he just needs enough of the key people who do have some organizational skill, like a Miller, to run the Executive as he likes. He doesn’t need many of those to do severe damage to the country, even if institutional inertia reduces other risk. Don’t forget the massed brains are already planning the decapitation of several agencies and replacement of leadership with Trump drones. Think Florida’s Surgeon General as the head of the CDC.

        Maybe nothing extraordinary gets done, but then we have potentially years of inaction from our government, capitulation to several global rivals (at least at the regional level), with the quality of response Trump’s presidency had towards all of that. Unless he pulled out the nukes, what institutions would stop those regional hegemons from grinding away large chunks of American power projection.

        You also have to remember they don’t care about norms. So Trump wants to put toadies on the NLRB. He “fires” everyone else and puts his people in. How do you stop that, and how likely is he to ignore a judiciary that rules against that action.

        Finally, say he gets in, and soon thereafter kicks the bucket. There will be a successor, who has at least a shot of being more competent and better with selection of various positions.

        Yes, enough doom and gloom.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          What Trump wants and what he would get with his second-term staffing are not the same thing. He may want a Joseph Ladapo to be a spokesman, to convince the rubes they don’t want vaccines, but he wouldn’t want him to be his doctor, if he gets Covid again.

          IMHO, it’s laughable to suggest that Stephen Miller could make the trains run on time or operate the punch card computers needed to keep track of the inmates. If Trump is only willing to hire from among the Kash Patels and George Papadopouloses, he won’t have anyone better.

          • Fraud Guy says:

            So the best case is that he only has incompetents to choose from, lards the top of every department with them, and then pretty much every agency in the US government doesn’t function for four years. Still a disaster at home and abroad.

    • timbozone says:

      They wouldn’t “hold all the levers of power” is the point. Basically, trying to govern a country where more than half of the population are opposed to your party and its agenda (whatever that is; there currently isn’t any GOP platform besides letting Trump do what he wants other than abortion is only for the rich hypocrites and no one else, etc, etc) depends largely on competency, not incompetency. Do you think any of these bozos could get the trains to run on time? Heck, most of them are opposed to there even being passenger trains or mass transit systems for the public! What about airplane safety? Think many of these bozos are qualified to make up laws about that? What would those laws be? “Guns are okay on planes!” seems to be their most unifying theory there. The list of stupid and vapid moronic ideas and policies issuing from these bunch of fools is long and sordid, and very light on being able to keep a strong hand on the general populace for any significant length of time.

      • timbozone says:

        Note I didn’t even touch on their response to Covid, some of which policies almost resulted in a mutiny on the USS Roosevelt, a key nuclear powered assault asset of the US…and one of the most dangerous engines of war ever built.

          • timbozone says:

            This is what the mind numbing idiocy of these bozos has done: filled the air-waves with empty nonsense so as to cover up their policy failures. It’s their MO.

        • LaMissy! says:

          Seems the WH medical office was freely distributing drugs it shouldn’t have:

          “We found that the White House Medical Unit provided a wide range of health care and pharmaceutical services to ineligible White House staff in violation of Federal law and regulation and DoD policy,” says a new report from the Defense Department’s inspector general. “Additionally, the White House Medical Unit dispensed prescription medications, including controlled substances, to ineligible White House staff.”


          • Ginevra diBenci says:

            The report avoids naming him, but that was almost all under Ronny Jackson’s inebriated non-leadership.

      • wasdarms says:

        weren’t sufficient lessons learned w/the ‘rebuilding’ of Iraq wrt hiring of unskilled incompetents?

        [Thanks for updating your username to meet the 8 letter minimum. /~Rayne]

  4. earlofhuntingdon says:

    And these incompetents would be among the most talented of hires in Trump’s new regime. Is there a Gresham’s Law in politics or govt hiring? If not, should we invent one and name it the Patel Papadopoulos Law?

    • RipNoLonger says:

      I’ll bet the 2nd trump presidency will have many more appointees vetted properly by the new operations (Kremlin, Koch/CNP, Wall Street) Sort of wonder if people like Billy Barr, Toilet Salesman, Scaramucho, McEnany, etc. will bother applying.

    • Sue 'em Queequeg says:

      I’d say it’s worse than just lacking competence. Competence is anathema to them. It’s work, it’s boring, you have to follow rules and know stuff. Where’s the vengeance in that? As they’ve shown us from the beginning, they’re here to break things.

      For any wake-up calls to get through to Trump voters, both the framing and substance will need to be calibrated to what and how they think. I see some potential in the message that they are really not going to like living in the world a Trump victory would lead to. It’s something many of them will never have thought of. They all want to own the libs until they see the lib owner’s manual.

  5. Tech Support says:

    Competency aside, Trump’s White House was populated with a substantial number of tradtitional, orthodox conservatives who ambitions were relatively traditional and orthodox and who imagined themselves gatekeepers of Trump’s more aberrant tendencies.

    Those people will not have a seat at the table in a hypothetical second term. It will be 100% grifters, radical reactionaries and petty despots.

    • ExRacerX says:

      “Those people will not have a seat at the table in a hypothetical second term. It will be 100% grifters, radical reactionaries and petty despots.”

      …and their titles will all begin with “Acting.”

    • yydennek says:

      “Trump’s WH was populated with” right wing Catholics advancing a religious agenda. There were 12 Jones Day lawyers in the Trump Administration including Don McGahn. The past and present managing partners of Jones Day were, formerly, respectively, on the board of Notre Dame and on an advisory council to the law school.
      Are those who sympathize with/initiate/further the right wing Catholic agenda, getting cover from media? Is it odd that 4 days ago, Politico posted about James Uthmeier, DeSantis’ chief of staff (formerly his campaign manager and before that in Trump’s Dept. of Commerce) and, omitted in its education bio that included colleges, Uthmeier’s JD from Catholic Georgetown University? While Politico was silent, the Federalist Society posted – Uthmeier worked for the Jones Day law firm and teaches religious education at St. Thomas More cathedral. When the NYT profiled DeSantis, it wrote about his public high school years, not his K-8 Catholic school years.
      How often is the Christian evangelical narrative promoted while there is a glaring omission of right wing Catholics? There’s not a single evangelical Christian on SCOTUS yet, protestants pose the political threat?

  6. Mart7890 says:

    Newt Gingrich and Comer both told me on FOX that Biden getting paid back $4,400 in three checks from his son is the CRIME OF THE CENTURY!!! What more do we need to know before Biden finally gets impeached? (I rarely post here, so snark if wondering.)

  7. Cheez Whiz says:

    I wonder about the cognitive dissonance Comer and the other Republicans with some responsibility must be dealing with about making their fever dreams real. They have their hazy accusations and “evidence”, why aren’t they going for it? Do they actually think they can convince enough Democrats to vote to impeach their President if they just have a “strong” enough case? It must be insanely frustrating to be burning with belief that they are right but can’t “prove” it, also believing the proof exists but they can’t lay their hands on it. A person of average intelligence would be in the middle of a nervous breakdown by now.

  8. Leading Edge Boomer says:

    I’ve been recommending the Jan/Feb 2024 issue of The Atlantic widely. It is titled “If Trump Wins” and a number of columnists paint particular images on various subjects. Really scary.

  9. Zeno Vatali says:

    We’ve still got Louis DeJoy messing up the US Postal Service since 2016.

    [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please use the same username and email address each time you comment so that community members get to know you. Thanks. /~Rayne]

  10. skyscraper says:

    It bears repeating that all the Republicans pushing these proofless accusations are likely doing so in the sincere (if that’s a word I can use in this context) belief that the Bidens and the current Democratic administration are truly corrupt.

    Because they can’t believe that given the opportunity to do so, the Dems wouldn’t do what they and their fellow Republicans do as a matter of course. They’d be chumps if they didn’t, right?

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