The Slatest

Trump Administration Concludes Appropriately With Toilet Scandal

Kushner and Trump are pictured side by side above a row of 6.5 toilet icons.
Jared and Ivanka with their proprietary toilets. Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by Alex Wong/Getty Images and Stockbyte via Getty Images Plus.

The Washington Post has Thursday’s biggest toilet news. It concerns the house that Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump have been renting in the District of Columbia:

Instructed not to use any of the half-dozen bathrooms inside the couple’s house, the Secret Service detail assigned to President Trump’s daughter and son-in-law spent months searching for a reliable restroom to use on the job, according to neighbors and law enforcement officials. After resorting to a porta-potty, as well as bathrooms at the nearby home of former president Barack Obama and the not-so-nearby residence of Vice President Pence, the agents finally found a toilet to call their own.

But it came at a cost to U.S. taxpayers. Since September 2017, the federal government has been spending $3,000 a month—more than $100,000 to date—to rent a basement studio, with a bathroom, from a neighbor of the Kushner family.

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The Kushner-Trump residence has 6.5 bathrooms in it, to be specific, and “two law enforcement officials” told the Post that they were “declared off-limits to the people protecting them from the beginning.” The White House denies this, but, if true, it would be appropriate to the spirit with which the Trump family approached government: as a kind of ideal client that could be counted on to pay expenses without making any demands, a co-branding partner in the “patriotism” space that was treated with contempt in private.

Toilets have, moreover, been a—nay, the—central motif of Donald Trump’s presidency. During the 2016 campaign, meme images circulated which purported to show a gold toilet in his New York City apartment. These images were not authentic, but they spoke to the belief—common to both the candidate’s supporters and his detractors—that he embodied a distinct, American mode of wealth and success. In late 2018, Trump fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions and replaced him on an interim basis with Matt Whitaker, a lightly credentialed right-wing talking head who had recently worked as a spokesman for a Florida-based company that promoted inventions such as a toilet custom-designed for men with lengthy penises. (The company was shut down by the Federal Trade Commission for defrauding customers not long before Whitaker became the country’s top law enforcement officer.) Toward the later end of his term, Trump began including a riff about low-flow toilets in the stand-up comedy routine/stump speech that he delivered at most public events, complaining that “people are flushing toilets 10 times, 15 times, as opposed to once,” because of onerous water regulations. (Incidentally, he is broadly correct about the latter issue. The regulations are bad, and good water flow is one of the major advantages the U.S. has always held over Europe. Climate change needs to be solved another way.)

Was Donald Trump the first toilet president? That’s for history to judge. But one thing’s for sure: From toilet wealth to toilet crime, his political career has always involved news about toilets.

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