CNN anchor Brooke Baldwin on Wednesday gleefully reported criminal charges against “one of the president’s most vocal allies.”
Baldwin added, “And I’m talking about [President Donald] Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, who, yes, is on trial.”
The subject of the story, of course, was Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.), who turned himself in on Wednesday to face charges of insider trading.
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Prosecutors allege that he passed information about a failed drug trial to his son before it was publicly known, allowing them to avoid massive losses that came when the drug manufacturer’s stock tanked.
CNN then played a montage of Collins clips in which he praised Trump and noted that he gave the Manhattan billionaire an early endorsement in the 2016 Republican primaries.
“Donald Trump ran on draining the swamp,” Baldwin said. “This is mighty swampy behavior.”
Later, CNN anchor Jake Tapper picked up on the same theme.
“And it’s difficult not to notice that the president who repeatedly declared himself the law and order candidate on the campaign trail, whose crowds continue to enthusiastically chant that his erstwhile opponent, Hillary Clinton, should be locked up — that president sure seems to have a lot of people in his orbit who seem to run afoul of the law,” he said.
Tapper added that “those who enthusiastically thought that electing President Trump might mean he would drain the swamp, they likely didn’t believe that so many critters in the swamp were the president’s friends and allies.”
Baldwin did not mention that it was Trump’s Department of Justice (DOJ) that brought the charges against Collins.
Peter Schweizer, who exposed congressional insider trading in his 2011 book “Throw Them All Out: How Politicians and Their Friends Get Rich Off Insider Stock Tips, Land Deals, and Cronyism That Would Send the Rest of Us to Prison,” said that should be reassuring.
Schweizer’s reporting led to passage of the Stop Trading On Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act of 2012, designed to prevent senators and representatives from using critical information they gain via their work to enrich themselves, members of their family or supporters.
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“It’s a great development that this case came to the fore,” he said. “Being close to the president shouldn’t matter, and it doesn’t seem to have mattered.”
Insider trading has been “a widespread problem for quite some time,” Schweizer said. He lamented situational outrage on the part of the political partisans.
“Ethics is being used as a weapon,” he said.
Schweizer said that when there are no prosecutions of politically connected people, it often is not because there is no wrongdoing, but because DOJ lacks courage. In the case of Collins, federal prosecutors appear not to have been influenced at all by his friendship with the president.
“We should be very encouraged that this has happened,” he said. “I see this, actually, as a very healthy development.”