Cole Porter’s title song from his 1934 hit musical Anything Goes includes the famous lyrics: “In olden days, a glimpse of stocking / Was looked on as something shocking / But now, God knows, anything goes.” The message behind the lyrics appears to apply perfectly to the Trump presidency. As Donald Trump wades further out into the sea of criminality with unprecedented impunity, his comparatively smaller violations and improprieties barely get covered.
A perfect example is Trump’s recent video trashing New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio after announcing his candidacy for president in 2020. The 36-second video, which Trump tweeted Thursday evening while having a meltdown on Air Force One, was not all that surprising. His accompanying text, “[email protected] is the worst Mayor in the history of New York City – he won’t last long!” basically sums it up.
However, Trump’s tweet prompted a swift response from the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW): “Nice political ad filmed on Air Force One. You now legally need to reimburse the Treasury for the use of Air Force One on a political trip. Since you had no problem tweeting out the video, you should have no problem tweeting out the receipts when you reimburse the taxpayers.” As CREW’s Chief Ethics Counsel Virginia Canter explained to The Washington Post, the video is more than a possible campaign finance violation. Trump’s use of Air Force One for political purposes is “serious,” and the fact that the video features the presidential seal is actually illegal. Federal law forbids the use of the seal “for the purpose of conveying, or in a manner reasonably calculated to convey, a false impression of sponsorship or approval by the Government of the United States.”
Under another presidency, this episode would grab more headlines and there would likely be some consequence, such as the Trump campaign reimbursing the government for the cost of the video. But this is the Trump presidency, and we are no longer in olden days. As we have now come to expect, “anything goes.”