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CNN historian likens Trump family to the mafia

CNN historian Douglas Brinkley compared the Trump family with the Italian mafia. “You have a kind of like a Mafioso; the family’s in charge only, and we keep it in our clan together," Brinkley said. (Image source: CNN screenshot)

CNN historian Douglas Brinkley compared President Donald Trump and his family to the Italian mafia Wednesday night and suggested that the people who work for the president are "almost embarrassed."

Brinkley made the comment on "CNN Tonight," just days after Trump's eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., released an email chain with publicist Rob Goldstone in which Goldstone told Trump Jr. that the Russian government supported his father for president. Goldstone sought to arrange a meeting at Trump Tower between Trump Jr. and a Kremlin-linked Russian lawyer who he said had damaging information about then-Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. "If it's what you say I love it," Trump Jr. replied.

Critics of the president say the email chain is evidence that the Trumps colluded with the Kremlin to defeat Clinton. Trump Jr., however, called the meeting with the Russian lawyer "a nothing" during an interview Tuesday night with Fox News host Sean Hannity. Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort were both copied on the email chain between Goldstone and Trump Jr.

Brinkley, on Wednesday night, likened the Trump familial bonds at the White House to that of the Italian mafia.

"A lot of people who work for Donald Trump now who are almost embarrassed to have it on their resume, meaning that their work for somebody who seems to be involved in a scandal all the time," Brinkley said, adding that there seems to be a "just a scandal a day going on."

"It's a White House in disarray," the CNN historian said. “You have a kind of like a Mafioso; the family’s in charge only, and we keep it in our clan together. And some people find that honorable, but when it starts damaging the United States at home and abroad.”

Brinkley specifically pointed to Kushner twice omitting from his security clearance form the fact that he met with Russians as just one of the Trump family "scandals": "People are trying to understand what's going on about our election hacking and here is somebody, Kushner, is supposed to be coming to negotiate peace in the Middle East, according to Donald Trump, when he's taking meetings with rogue Russians in such a fashion."

The CNN historian then said the White House is "disassembling" under Trump's leadership. He suggested that Trump follow the actions of former President Ronald Reagan amid the Iran-Contra investigation and "try to talk honestly to the American people. Not just to Fox News or Christian Broadcasting Network where he feels like he's got friendly people doing the questioning."

In recent weeks, Trump has granted one-on-one interviews to "Fox and Friends" and the Christian Broadcasting Network. The last time the president gave an interview to a mainstream media outlet was in May, when Trump told NBC's Lester Holt that he had Russia on his mind when he fired former FBI Director James Comey.

Trump's pick to replace Comey, former Bush administration senior Justice Department official Christopher Wray, had his Senate confirmation hearing Wednesday. When asked by Republican South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham if he considered the Russia investigation to be a "witch hunt," as the president has repeatedly called it, Wray said that he did not consider it to be a "witch hunt."

A reporter asked Trump during his visit to Paris on Thursday about Wray's comment before the Senate committee. Trump responded by reaffirming his support for Wray to lead the FBI.

"We are going to have a great FBI director, he's doing well," Trump said during a joint news conference with French President Emmanuel Macron.

(H/T: NewsBusters)

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