Outrage after ex-Trump aide claims he gave unhoused people fake money | Trump administration

Johnny McEntee, the former White House Trump aide closely linked to plans for radical federal government reform should Donald Trump win re-election, stoked outrage with a TikTok video in which he claimed to give unhoused people fake money, thereby to ensure their arrest.

“So I always keep this fake Hollywood money in my car,” McEntee said in the video posted last week by The Right Stuff, a dating site for rightwingers of which McEntee is a co-founder.

“So when a homeless person asks for money, then I give them like a fake $5 bill. So I feel good about myself. They feel good. And then when they go to use it, they get arrested. So I’m actually like helping clean up the community, you know, getting them off the street.”

The video included a caption: “Just a joke. Everyone calm down.”

But that only pointed to the outrage it stoked.

Tara Setmayer, a former Republican operative now an adviser to the anti-Trump Lincoln Project, called McEntee “a cruel, indecent POS”, or piece of shit.

“I can’t imagine being this awful as a human being,” Setmayer added. “Which explains why I’m proudly not Maga [a Trump supporter] and working so hard to defeat this ilk.”

David Corn, the Washington bureau chief of Mother Jones magazine, asked: “How broken must you be to do this and think it’s funny?”

In 2018, McEntee was bruised but not broken by his own unhousing: from the White House on the orders of John Kelly, the former US Marine Corps general who was Trump’s second chief of staff.

A former college football quarterback, McEntee was Trump’s “body man”, an aide who follows the president closely to make sure every need is met. Kelly reportedly fired him over security clearance issues related to an online gambling habit.

In 2020, McEntee returned to the White House as director of the Presidential Personnel Office. Though the Atlantic would later quote a “high-profile” Trump cabinet secretary as calling McEntee “a fucking idiot”, the same outlet quoted another senior official as saying, “He became the deputy president.”

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As described by the Atlantic, McEntee led a fierce drive for loyalty which “made the disastrous last weeks of the Trump presidency possible … back[ing] the president’s manic drive to overturn the election, and help[ing] set the stage for the January 6 assault on the Capitol”.

McEntee is widely reported to be involved in preparations for a Trump second term meant to feature far-reaching reforms, under the label Project 2025, and purges of government officials deemed insufficiently loyal.

As McEntee’s video about giving unhoused people fake money spread around the internet, however, some observers pointed to a possible problem with federal law, should he ever prove not to be joking.

Under 18 US Code section 480: “Whoever, within the United States, knowingly and with intent to defraud, possesses or delivers any false, forged, or counterfeit bond, certificate, obligation, security, treasury note, bill, promise to pay, bank note, or bill issued by a bank or corporation of any foreign country, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.”

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