I have no personal knowledge of Trump selling White House dinnerware and pocketing the cash. But I do remember how he created a business out of selling ambassadorships to wealthy Republican donors. In 2019 there were widespread media reports of one in particular, where it was too blatant, even for the GOP-controlled Senate. Trump picked San Diego billionaire Doug Manchester in 2017, again in 2018 and again in 2019 to be ambassador to the Bahamas (where he owns a home). I recall having written about this character in 2013 in connection to the rise of Kevin Faulconer, the former San Diego mayor currently at the forefront of the drive to recall (and replace) Gavin Newsom. At the time, Doug Manchester owned the region's only major newspaper (the Union-Tribune) and we billed him as a retired hotel mogul who has spent years dumping buckets of money into conservative candidates and ballot measures like the viciously homophobic Prop 8, and has spent his few years as owner of the local paper not only shilling for pet candidates and causes, but buying up smaller community papers with different opinions conveniently in electorally important parts of San Diego. And naturally, he was also central to a (relatively) secret meeting of powerful San Diego conservatives who anointed Kevin Faulconer for this mayoral race.
Six year later he was in the center of an attempt to buy himself an ambassadorship. At the time, we noted that Trump was hardly the first corrupt politician who greased his way into the White House and then illegally sold positions, particularly ambassadorships to countries that matter very little. But only Trump was stupid enough to leave a written trail for law enforcement. And, of course, Trump has done it more than any other White House occupant. Most presidents use some ambassadorial posts to reward supporters, the way Trump has with the latest wealthy skank Newt Gingrich married (Vatican City). But yesterday CBS News exposed a pay-to-play scheme that could land some people in prison and has already ended the still-born diplomatic career of Doug Machester, a wealthy and crooked developer in San Diego with the reputation of as a shady wheeler-dealer, so... right up Trump's alley. He's been bribing Republicans for years:
• September 30, 2015- $50,000 to a Trump's shady superPAC
• August 31, 2011- $25,000 to a Mitt Romney SuperPAC
• October 16, 2014- $10,000 to the NRCC
• May 6, 2015- 10,000 to a Carly Fiorina SuperPAC
• March 21, 2016- $10,000 to the San Diego County Central Committee
• May 15, 2014- $10,000 to the Republican Party of San Diego
• June 10, 2016- $5,000 to the Republican Party of San Diego
• August 28, 2013- $5,000 to a Marco Rubio SuperPAC
He also maxed out to Darrell Issa (at least 6 times), Scott Walker, Carly Fiorina, Marco Rubio (3 times) and several others. But Trump doesn't sell ambassadorships for $50,000. Trump had Ronna Romney (AKA- RNC chair Ronna McDaniel) hit Manchester up for another half million dollars, after he wrote a check to Trump's inauguration committee, money that is unaccounted for and widely believed translated right into Trump's own bank account.
Trump offered Papa Doug," as Manchester was known in GOP circles, the ambassadorship the day after the inauguration. BUT... while the confirmation was working its way through the Senate, McDaniel told him to write another $500,000 check, this one for the RNC. He refused and that was the end of the nomination, which stalled for 2-and-a-half years in MoscowMitch's corrupt sewer-Senate. "That’s part of politics. It’s unbelievable. You give and you give and you give and you give some more and more and more," Manchester told CBS News. He offered McDaniel a $100,000 check from his wife instead... if MoscowMitch had him confirmed. That never happened and Trump withdrew the nomination in November, 2019. Once Manchester basically ratted McDaniel out, to CBS she had the RNC return a small part of the money Papa Doug has given them.
OK, so Trump was selling ambassadorships. Big surprise! Not. During Trump's term about half of the U.S. ambassadors bought their posts, including putting money into Trump's pockets directly (via Mar-A-Lago memberships) and schemes like that. And Pompeo was perfectly fine with it.
This morning, his old newspaper reported that Manchester’s political contributions, ambassador nod are subject of criminal probe. Jeff McDonald wrote that "A federal grand jury in Washington, D.C., has begun issuing subpoenas in a criminal investigation into the nomination of San Diego developer Douglas F. Manchester as ambassador to the Bahamas by former President Donald Trump. The case appears to focus on the Republican National Committee and its two senior leaders, and possibly members of Congress."
The Grand Jury has subpoenaed "copies of any communications between the Manchesters, the RNC and RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel and Co-Chair Tommy Hicks. They also demand communications between the witness and any employee or agent and any member of Congress or their staff." Manchester was known to have Darrell Issa and Marco Rubio is his pocket at the time.
Manchester, who hosted Trump at a San Diego campaign event in 2016 and contributed $1 million to the subsequent inauguration, declined to respond last week to multiple requests for comment on the grand jury investigation.
According to the grand jury reference number listed on the documents, the investigation was opened last year-- before Trump left the White House.
Weeks after Manchester withdrew his nomination, emails surfaced indicating that Manchester was at the center of a possible “pay-to-play” arrangement with the Republican National Committee.
In November 2019, CBS News disclosed exchanges between McDaniel and Manchester that implied the San Diego developer would make additional contributions after winning confirmation.
...Prosecutors appear to want more information about Manchester’s reply to an email he received in September 2019 from McDaniel, who asked him to “consider putting together $500,000 worth of contributions from your family to ensure we hit our ambitious fundraising goal.”
In his response, Manchester noted that one six-figure contribution to the committee was forthcoming and suggested more would be donated once his ambassadorship was secured.
“As you know, I am not supposed to do any (political contributions during the confirmation process) but my wife is sending a contribution for $100,000,” he told McDaniel by email, CBS News reported.
“Assuming I get voted out of FRC (Foreign Relations Committee) on Wednesday to the floor we need you to have the majority leader bring it to a majority vote,” he added. “Once confirmed our family will respond.”
Manchester told the Union-Tribune 18 months ago that his exchange with McDaniel was being misunderstood by those who were outside the conversation.
“I was just saying we will respond,” he said. “We could respond.”
Manchester copied aides to two U.S. senators whose support he needed to win confirmation on his emailed response to the RNC chair-- a move that was criticized by several political experts, including former Sen. Bob Corker, then the Foreign Relations Committee chairman.
The Union-Tribune recently obtained three separate documents, each appearing to relate to the potential “pay-to-play” situation first disclosed by CBS News in 2019.
All three records were addressed to a person whose last name is Manchester and lives in Rancho Santa Fe; the first name is blacked out.
Geniya Manchester, who married the San Diego developer in 2013 and divorced him late in 2019, has three young children with Manchester and a home in Rancho Santa Fe. She is the spouse Manchester was referring to when he told McDaniel that his wife was sending $100,000 to the Republican National Committee.
...Trump appointed more political supporters over career public servants than any of his predecessors dating back to Gerald Ford, according to the American Foreign Service Association. About 44 percent of ambassadors appointed by Trump were political appointees, compared with a historical average of about 30 percent.
Now, wonderers are wondering how much Manchester money has gone into the Newsom recall effort, there being little doubt that Manchester owns Faulconer and that it would be convenient for him to control the California governor's office. And what about Manchester and Rubio? Is Manchester one of the multi-million dollar mystery men in this report?