Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island believes the most consequential decision from President Donald Trump's early days as president was "letting in all the special interests" to his administration.
Whitehouse, who spoke with Business Insider last week while promoting his newly released book, "Captured: The Corporate Infiltration of American Democracy," said Trump's decision to allow Wall Street bankers, industry titans, and other multi-millionaires into both cabinet and White House jobs will have the farest reaching effect of any early Trump move.
While such cabinet members are nothing new, with many past presidents, including President Barack Obama, having ultra-wealthy administration officials, Trump managed to put together the wealthiest team in history.
"It wasn't clear when he was elected that his brand of disruption was not potentially going to be pretty even-handed, and going after sacred cows on all sides," Whitehouse said. "So it's been discouraging for those of us who initially said, 'All right, I don't like this, but let's look to see what he wants to do and see where we can work with him' — to find door after door just slammed in our faces."
"And I think the coils of the Koch operation are winding around the Oval Office," he continued.
Whitehouse seemed to equate the ultra-wealthy cabinet with a shadow administration forming around Trump — one that could run counter to some of his campaign pledges.
"My take is that, if [White House chief strategist Steve] Bannon can keep being disruptive and keep Trump tweeting and they get just sort of in their heads about all the fuss and bother their causing all the news reaction, then, quietly, like the Grand Vizier in the old 'One Thousand and One Nights' stories, the Koch brothers and [Vice President Mike] Pence can just build an administration around him and he'll never even know what hit him until one day he'll realize 'Wait a minute, I won. I won this presidency, and I'm not running it,'" Whitehouse said. "And I think that has begun."
The senator added: "And unless he gets his head out of the tweetstorm and starts to look around and figure out who the hell is reporting to him and what is going on, that he could be a figurehead."
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