Since President Donald Trump has taken control of the oval office, he has appointed a number of his friends and family– some of them with little knowledge of how things work at a federal level– to several high profile government jobs.
However, considering how Trump himself entirely lacks both political and military experience, unlike any U.S. president ever, it makes it easier to understand why the reality television star-turned politician has a penchant of appointing individuals with no discernible relevant experience.
But, a recently released report by ProPublica revealed how some of the president’s cronies don’t even need to hold an official government position in order to influence the crucial affairs of the country.
According to a report titled “The Shadow Rulers of the VA,” the publication obtained documents from the Freedom of Information Act, which showed how three of Trump’s friends–who have neither served in the U.S. military nor hold government positions– from his Mar-a-Lago resort exercised unprecedented influence over policies concerning the country’s military veterans.
The three friends are: Marvel Entertainment Chairman Isaac "Ike" Perlmutter, a Palm Beach doctor named Bruce Moskowitz and lawyer Marc Sherman. They have been reportedly pulling the strings at the Department of Veterans Affairs for months, ProPublica reported.
Last year, shortly after Peter O’Rourke became chief of staff for the Department of Veterans Affairs, he reportedly received an email from Moskowitz who gave his feedback on a new mental health initiative at the department.
“Received,” O’Rourke replied. “I will begin a project plan and develop a timeline for action.”
What’s unusual about the whole situation is how O’Rourke being in the position of power took Moskowitz’s email as an order. Moskowitz is neither a government official nor a vet, yet he apparently had a say in steering policies affecting millions of Americans.
The three men reportedly make personnel decisions, hover on top VA officials without any transparency or oversight and often used their influence in ways that could benefit their private interests.
The report also highlighted how their interference is a well-known fact amongst the Trump administration officials. In fact, some officials even traveled to Mar-a-Lago to speak with the men about their desires for the VA.
“Everyone has to go down and kiss the ring,” a former administration official was quoted as saying.
The informal council of three people declined to be interviewed and kept the interrogation at bay by putting forward a crisis-communications consultant.
However, in a statement, they rejected the accusations and said nobody is obligated to act on their suggestions.
“At all times, we offered our help and advice on a voluntary basis, seeking nothing at all in return,” it said. “While we were always willing to share our thoughts, we did not make or implement any type of policy, possess any authority over agency decisions, or direct government officials to take any actions… To the extent anyone thought our role was anything other than that, we don’t believe it was the result of anything we said or did.”
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