I have seen the future of the Trump administration, and it’s hawking cigars and fish oil pills in YouTube videos. On Friday, as evidence mounted that Trump would lose the election, Trump attorney and former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani posted a video to his YouTube channel about how the Democrats were stealing the election. “This is a good time to take a break,” he said halfway through the podcast-style video, after calling the election corrupt. The screen faded and America’s Mayor came back, smoking a cigar. “If you want a good cigar, go to a good cigar shop.”
Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, the former mayor of New York City during the 9/11 tragedy, former U.S. Attorney General for the Southern District of New York who fought the mob, is hawking a direct-mail cigar store on his personal YouTube channel and giving press conferences in the parking lots of landscaping companies. This will be the future for many of Trump’s loyalists.
Giuliani is just the latest Trump associate to start a side hustle selling products to viewers. Former Trump national security advisor, current education Trump education committee appointee, and “doctor” of counter-terrorism studies, Sebastian Gorka, took a brief detour from public life to host a radio show. As part of the show, Gorka sold fish oil pills he claimed would alleviate pain.
“Sebastian Gorka here for Relief Factor,” the Dragon of Budapest, a man once wanted for questioning by Hungarian police on a gun charge, said during his sales pitch. “First of all, let me say I have never before endorsed a pain reliever, but when Pete and Seth Tablott, the father-and-son owners of Relief Factor, asked me to endorse their 100 percent drug-free product, I absolutely couldn’t say no.”
The Trump administration was a lot of terrible things, and we’ll spend years unspooling the mess it leaves behind in the White House. But first and foremost, it was always a way for Trump and those loyal to Trump to enrich themselves personally. As I type this, the Trump campaign—such as it is—is sending emails to supporters asking for donations to pay for the legal fees required to pay for recounts and fund election lawsuits. A disclaimer at the bottom of the email makes clear that 50% of any contribution will go toward paying down the campaign’s debt.
In Wisconsin, where Trump campaign officials have already demanded a recount, the recount would cost $3 million. That’s $3 million that Trump’s campaign would have to pay for. As of this writing, they haven’t ponied up the cash. When you’re leaving the presidency facing legal problems in New York State, and your creditors are calling in their loans, then every dollar matters. Possibly more than making a show of recounting votes.
As wild and ridiculous as Giuliani is, he had the right idea. He started his YouTube channel a year ago and has steadily pumped out content since then. He’s got 331,000 subscribers, more than 10 million views, and a sponsorship deal with a cigar store.
For many of the Trump administration’s most ridiculous figures, this is the best they can hope. A career selling Racyon earbuds while they whine about their grievances to an ever diminishing audience.