This week, our award for wrongdoing or risible political behavior goes to a once and, at this point, probably not future member of Congress, Michael Grimm.
The Staten Island representative resigned his seat in 2015 when he was imprisoned for cheating on his taxes. Grimm also had a history of outbursts and physical aggression — “sometimes I get my Italian up,” he explains. In 2014, he threatened to throw a NY1 reporter who asked about an investigation into his campaign fundraising “off this fucking balcony” and to “break” him “in half, like a boy.” That was just the latest incident of many.
This year, as he attempted to cozy up to Trump, Grimm cast his felony tax plea as the result of a “witch hunt.” He also sought the President’s favor in other ways: In 2017, as his campaign was ramping up, he made a point of praising his “massive hands.”
It didn’t work. Trump endorsed Dan Donovan, who had replaced Grimm in Congress when Grimm went to jail. “Remember Alabama,” the President tweeted, alluding the Roy Moore’s disastrous candidacy.
The race was confusing with, as Allegra Kirkland chronicles, dirty tricks galore. During a primary debate, Grimm alleged that Donovan had tried to get Trump to pardon Grimm as a sort of bribe to keep Grimm out of the primary. Donovan acknowledged that the topic had come up in his discussions with the President, but said he had only raised it as a favor to a friend who was a political ally of Grimm.
Republicans strategists fretted that if Grimm won the primary, he would be controversial enough to put the Republican-leaning Staten Island district in play.
But Donovan won the race easily. “We make plans,” Grimm said, and “God laughs at us.”
And so Grimm joined the ranks of Trump-like candidates who have foundered without a presidential endorsement. There can be only one Trump.
Despite that, Grimm promises that the best is yet to come.
“This is just the beginning for Michael Grimm,” he said. He later told reporters that he’s thinking of practicing law, “if that’s what God wants.”
For becoming the latest politician to bet, wrongly, that in the age of Trump a sketchy past is an asset, Michael Grimm is our Duke of the Week.