America’s post-pandemic rebound could blow the 2009 economic recovery out of the water

obama biden first 100 days
President Joe Biden and former President Barack Obama at the Invictus Games Toronto 2017.

  • The US post-pandemic rebound could be much faster than the 2009 recession.
  • One expert said the economy may even end up stronger, which “is crazy to think about.”
  • Still, experts caution that even a blitz of emergency spending could leave people behind.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Last week, President Joe Biden alluded to Ronald Reagan’s famous “Morning in America” remark, saying “the sun is coming out.” And the economic data supports that. It’s a lot like morning in America, 2020s style.

After enduring a year of shutdowns, the country may now be on course for one of its fastest growth periods since the 1980s. The economy regained 850,000 jobs in June, a sharp increase after disappointing gains in May and April. Unemployment claims are falling steadily as well. Should job growth maintain the June trend, payrolls would fully rebound by February, exactly 24 months after the pre-pandemic peak. By comparison, it took 76 months for the US to recoup all jobs lost during the Great Recession.

The recovery from the Great Recession was, by several measures, the most sluggish in US history. The policy response to the coronavirus, including $6 trillion of emergency spending, has not only been more effective, but appears to be crafted with the mistakes of 2009 in mind.

“I’m incredibly encouraged when it’s compared to the Great Recession,” Mike Konczal, director of macroeconomic analysis at the left-leaning Roosevelt Institute, told Insider. “Responding at the speed and level of crisis as we did with fiscal and monetary support … means that our economy may not only recover so fast, but it may be stronger than it would have been without it, which is crazy to think about.”

The chart below shows the rate of job losses and gains after the Great Recession compared to the coronavirus recession.

Withdrawing federal support in 2012 caused “a lot of scarring” in the labor market, and lawmakers learned from it, Claudia Sahm, a former Fed economist and senior fellow at the Jain Family Institute, said.

“I think of March of 2021 being this pivotal moment like the end of 2012 was,” Sahm said. “This time, Congress did the right thing, in terms of pushing more money out.”

A new playbook for economic revival

The sheer size of the pandemic-era relief bills dwarfs those seen during the Great Recession. The Obama administration was wary of passing a $1 trillion package in 2009, as officials feared the price tag would erode support from Republicans and even moderate Democrats.

The scope is also drastically different. Instead of allocating funds to tax credits and federal spending programs, recent stimulus sent money directly to households through checks and enhanced unemployment insurance. The use of direct cash relief was the most encouraging aspect of pandemic-era support, Sahm said.

“This time we didn’t monkey around with [tax credits],” she told Insider, adding stimulus checks helped Americans pay down debt, build financial buffers, and maintain spending.

To be sure, the two recessions boast some critical differences. The COVID-19 recovery hinged on thwarting the virus’s spread. The financial crisis was far more systemic in nature, and it took more than a year for the recovery to even begin.

“Everything about this crisis has been much faster than during the Great Recession,” Sahm said. “The bottom fell out, then we hit the bottom, and then we started moving up.”

Other experts argued that last year’s response deserves a larger share of the credit. “I think fiscal policy in 2020 was really important and what we’ve seen so far this year has been unneeded and created some real risks in the economy,” Douglas Holtz-Eakin, former head of the Congressional Budget Office and GOP aide to George W. Bush, said in an interview.

Most signals point to a healthy recovery

Holtz-Eakin is among the conservative economists arguing that Biden’s stimulus has caused a stronger rise in inflation than expected. Indeed, popular gauges of price growth rose at the fastest pace since 2008 in May as rebounding demand ran up against dire supply shortages.

For now, the Federal Reserve and the Congressional Budget Office both expect inflation to weaken as shortages are addressed. And early signs point to price growth cooling into the summer.

Other signals are similarly encouraging. Wages are rising for workers in the leisure and hospitality sector, and Americans surveyed in a recent Gallup poll say they’re the happiest they’ve ever been as vaccinations become more widespread and restrictions ease up.

Though most signs are good, experts are still urging caution given the huge hit absorbed by low-income workers, many of whom are Black and Hispanic.

“We should also remember that the road to recovery is long, even at this optimistic, faster timeline, it’s still gonna be until the end of next year to get to pre-pandemic levels and there’s gonna be a lot of people who are worse off,” Konczal said.

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MAGA Diaspora: We’re tracking the 327 most important lobbyists, authors, and consultants in Trump’s post-White House influence network

Donald Trump behind the White House with a group of people who used to work for his administration behind him on a red background.

Donald Trump remains a powerful presence in American politics despite being deplatformed and defenestrated. The same goes for the people who worked for his administration.

That’s why Insider embarked over the past several months on a project to track down as many members as possible from Team Trump who served in an official capacity between January 2017 and January 2021.

Some of them you’ll surely remember, like ex-White House senior advisors Jared Kushner and Steve Bannon. Others made it through the last few years without becoming household names.

Ultimately, we identified 327 Trump alumni for our comprehensive database. There, we break down who are now the big shot lawyers, high-powered lobbyists, aspiring authors, and political consultants already busy trying to win elections for MAGA-minded candidates in 2022 and beyond.

Our project also highlights who from the Trump orbit ended up building new political entities aimed at sinking President Joe Biden’s agenda and enacting controversial changes to election laws that favor Republicans.

We pinpoint the location of a couple of the biggest names from the Trump Cabinet who were mired in scandals during their time in the administration but now are trying to move on to new jobs. And we’ve identified the ex-Trump staffers who are now serving as aides to members of Congress, plus a couple of former administration officials who have become elected officials themselves.

Of course, many Trump aides also are acting like they don’t want to be found at all. At least not yet.

Check out the full Trump alumni database and our additional stories here:

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Trump frequently mocked Rudy Giuliani, called him ‘pathetic,’ and said he ‘sucked,’ new book says

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Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani listens as U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference in the Briefing Room of the White House on September 27, 2020 in Washington, DC.

  • Trump regularly demeaned Rudy Giuliani, according to WSJ reporter Michael Bender’s new book.
  • Trump told Giuliani he “sucked” and was “weak” and also called him “pathetic,” the book said.
  • But Giuliani still craved Trump’s attention and often competed with other aides to sit near him.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Former President Donald Trump regularly demeaned one of his most loyal confidants, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, according to Wall Street Journal reporter Michael Bender’s new book, an excerpt of which was obtained by The Daily Mail.

Trump mocked Giuliani for falling asleep during meetings and delivered harsh feedback on his TV interviews, Bender writes in his forthcoming book on the 2020 election, “Frankly, We Did Win This Election: The Inside Story of How Trump Lost.”

Trump reportedly told Giuliani he “sucked” and was “weak” after Giuliani defended him on TV amid fallout over the publication of the Access Hollywood tape showing Trump bragging about sexually assaulting women.

Despite Trump’s mockery, Giuliani was determined to remain close to the ex-president.

“Rudy never wanted to be left out,” one aide told Bender, according to The Mail. “If you were ever between Rudy and the president, look out. You were going to get trampled.”

Still, there were times when Trump defended Giuliani. At one point, the president’s aides started complaining about how Giuliani’s frequent television appearances were creating a PR headache for the White House press shop. But “Trump barked that at least Giuliani was out there fighting for him,” Bender’s book says, according to The Mail. “Everyone shut up after that.”

Giuliani has been a hardline Trump supporter since his presidential campaign in 2016. But the former New York mayor catapulted into the spotlight in 2018 when he took over as Trump’s main defense attorney amid allegations that the president coordinated an illegal hush money payment to the porn star Stormy Daniels during the 2016 campaign in exchange for her silence about an alleged affair they had.

He also defended Trump during the special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and whether the Trump campaign conspired with Moscow to tilt the race in his favor. Most recently, he was a fixture on national television while crusading to overturn the results of the 2020 election based on bogus allegations of rampant voter and election fraud.

On Thursday, a New York court suspended Giuliani from practicing law in the state after finding “uncontroverted evidence” that he “communicated demonstrably false and misleading statements to courts, lawmakers and the public at large” about the 2020 election results.

Nonpartisan election experts and cybersecurity professionals found that, contrary to Giuliani’s and Trump’s claims of malfeasance, the 2020 election was the safest and most secure in US history.

The former New York mayor appeared on the far-right network Newsmax hours after the ruling came down and said he was “not very happy” about the interim suspension.

“All I can say is, America is not America any longer,” Giuliani added. “We do not live in a free state. We live in a state that’s controlled by the Democrat Party.”

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Former secretary of state mounts a defense of Trump’s handling of Russia: ‘I’m proud of the work we did there’

Mike Pompeo
Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a briefing at the State Department in Washington, DC, on November 10, 2020.

  • Mike Pompeo claimed he and former President Donald Trump were “tough” with Russia.
  • Asked by Chris Wallace of “Fox News Sunday” whether Pompeo believed Trump handled Russia well, Pompeo defended the former president.
  • “I’m proud of the work we did there,” he said. “It was good work.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Mike Pompeo on Sunday defended former President Donald Trump and his handling of Russia, saying he’s proud of the work the two did during his tenure as secretary of state.

In an interview on “Fox News Sunday,” host Chris Wallace asked Pompeo about various human-rights violations Russia stands accused of.

Alexei Navalny, for example, claims he was poisoned by the Kremlin, which has repeatedly denied any involvement in the incident. Russian President Vladimir Putin once posited that Navalny had poisoned himself, an idea Navalny mocked.

Putin’s opponents have routinely been poisoned. Novichok, the same nerve agent Navalny ingested, had previously been used to poison other Kremlin dissidents. Some of Putin’s critics have been killed. When asked whether he was a killer, Putin laughed and never answered the question directly.

“With respect to human rights, I – we take a backseat to no one,” Pompeo said in response to a question from Wallace on Trump’s handling of Russia. “I heard Secretary [Anthony] Blinken talk about the work they’re doing to try and convince the Europeans to stand alongside us on human-rights violations in China and the work that they’ve done defending human rights against Russian abuses. We were tough there too, Chris.”

“I’m proud of the work we did there,” Pompeo added. “It was good work. It was serious work and it made a difference.”

Trump and Putin had a suspiciously close relationship that has frequently raised eyebrows among critics and politicians. The US president, has, for example, praised Putin and absolved him of all accusations related to interference in the 2016 election, despite intelligence reports clearly implicating Russia.

And just days ago, Trump once again reiterated his claim that Russia did not interfere in the 2016 presidential election, adding that he trusts Russia more than US intelligence.

Trump has previously brushed off allegations characterizing Putin as a killer, and he’s also stayed quiet on Navalny’s claim that the Russian president poisoned him.

President Joe Biden, meanwhile, has outright called Putin a killer.

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French President Emmanuel Macron says ‘America is back’ after Biden’s first few months in office

Emmanuel Macron in Brussels
French President Emmanuel Macron speaks in Brussels on October 2, 2020.

  • French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday said “America is back” now that President Joe Biden is in office.
  • “It’s great to have a US president who’s part of the club and very willing to cooperate,” Macron said at the G7 Summit.
  • Macron’s remarks mark a stark contrast from when President Donald Trump was in office.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday signaled his confidence in the United States as an ally with President Joe Biden at the nation’s head.

When asked by reporters whether he thinks “America is back,” Biden gestured to Macron to answer the question.

“Yes, definitely,” Macron said at the G7 Summit.

“It’s great to have a US president who’s part of the club and very willing to cooperate,” Macron said. “What you demonstrate is that leadership is partnership.”

Biden, adding on, indicated his agreement.

“The United States, I’ve said before, we’re back,” the US president said. “Things are going, I think, well, and we’re, as we say back in the States, we’re on the same page.”

Macron’s comments about relations between the United States and other countries like France are a complete departure from his thoughts from when President Donald Trump was in office.

Trump and Macron had a notoriously tumultuous relationship. The French president, for example, didn’t seem to regard Trump as a leader, characterizing him as someone who’s not a “classical politician.”

After the US pulled out of the Paris climate agreement in 2017, France chose to not invite American leaders to a climate change meeting in Paris. Macron around the same time said France “will be there to replace” US contributions to the funding of climate change research.

In 2019, Macron and other world leaders, including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, were caught on a hot mic mocking Trump for his unusually long press conferences.

Macron in his Saturday remarks did not explicitly mention Trump by name but reporters and officials were quick to make comparisons between the former president and Biden.

Macron’s remarks come on the heels of praise and criticism from other world leaders.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, for example, hailed Biden on Thursday as “a big breath of fresh air.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin told NBC News that Trump is “extraordinary” and “talented.” Putin called Biden a “career man” who “has spent virtually his entire adulthood” in politics.

Across 12 countries surveyed on Biden’s approval rating so far, a median of 75% of respondents said they felt confident he would “do the right thing regarding world affairs,” according to a Pew Research study released Thursday. At the end of Trump’s presidency, just 17% of global respondents believed the same about the former president.

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The Trump administration took more than 3,900 kids from their parents. More than half remain separated.

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A volunteer with pro-immigration group Families Belong Together, attaches one of 600 teddy bears to a chainlink cage which ‘representing the children still separated as a result of U.S. immigration policies’ on the National Mall November 16, 2020 in Washington, DC.

  • A total of 3,913 migrant children were separated by the Trump administration, DHS said Tuesday.
  • Of them, just 1,786 have been reunited with their parents, the department said.
  • President Joe Biden has ordered DHS to reunite the remaining 2,127 children.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

More than half of the nearly 4,000 children separated from their families by the Trump administration remain estranged from their parents, the Department of Homeland Security revealed in a new report on Tuesday.

As part of its effort to discourage Central Americans from exercising their legal right to seek asylum, the previous administration forced parents to choose: get deported as a family unit or leave the kids behind so that they can pursue their claims in the relative safety of the United States.

Still, as DHS’s Inspector General said in a May report, some 348 parents and children were separated against their apparent wishes.

Now a new report, from DHS’s Interagency Task Force on the Reunification of Families, shows the full impact of that separation policy, which the previous White House abandoned after a public outcry.

The task force, created by an executive order from President Joe Biden, identified 3,913 children as having been separated from their parents during the last administration. Of them, 1,786 “have already been reunified with their parent,” the report said.

That leaves 2,127 children who are still separated from their parents.

The report hints at how long it may take to find their parents, if they are indeed able to found back in their home countries – primarily Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. In the previous 30 days, DHS said, the department was able to reunite just 7 children with their parents.

As CBS News reported, once reunited, families are granted access to mental health services and are eligible for “three years of protection from deportation to try to acquire work permits.”

But speaking to KQED, Lee Gelernt, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, which sued over the family separation policy, said he believes that the number of parents who have not been found is actually lower than DHS suggests. According to the ACLU, the parents of 391 children have not been located.

“The other group are families who have been contacted by us, but were not reunited because the Trump administration only gave them two brutal choices: remain permanently separated from your child, or have your child come back to your home country and back to the very danger from which they fled,” Gelernt said.

Comunidad Maya Pixan Ixim, a nonprofit representing the Maya community in Nebraska, said it has been consulting with the DHS task force. It believes many of the remaining children come from indigenous communities in the Americas, complicating the reunification process as these communities are typically the most isolated and impoverished.

“The majority of the children still lost and not returned to their families are Maya,” the group said in a statement on Twitter, a fact it lamented was not acknowledged in the DHS report. “Indigenous erasure will only add further harm,” it said, noting the attacks on their rights in countries such as Guatemala is what drives them “to seek asylum and refugee status in the US.”

Have a news tip? Email this reporter: cdavis@insider.com

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Don McGahn, former Trump White House attorney, ‘was clearly distressed’ by ex-president’s behavior, top Democrat says after congressional testimony

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Former White House counsel Don McGahn departs after appearing for questioning behind closed doors by the House Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, June 4, 2021.

  • Former White House counsel Don McGahn testified Friday before the House Judiciary Committee.
  • The testimony related to former President Donald Trump’s response to the Mueller investigation.
  • New York Rep. Jerrold Nadler said McGahn “was clearly distressed” by Trump’s behavior
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Former President Donald Trump’s White House counsel, Don McGahn, “was clearly distressed” by his boss’s response to the Mueller investigation, a top Democrat said Friday following congressional testimony.

“Mr. McGahn testified at length to an extremely dangerous period in our nation’s history – in which President Trump, increasingly unhinged and fearful of his own liability, attempted to obstruct the Mueller investigation at every turn,” New York Rep. Jerrold Nadler, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said in a statement.

McGahn’s closed-door testimony came as part of the committee’s investigation into Trump’s obstruction of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

A transcript of the hearing will be released at a future date, Nadler said.

“Mr. McGahn was clearly distressed by President Trump’s refusal to follow his legal advice, again and again, and he shed new light on several troubling events,” the lawmaker said.

The committee had issued a subpoena for McGahn’s testimony back in 2019. At the time, he refused, citing “executive privilege,” a reference to the president’s ability to receive frank advise from his aides.

McGahn ultimately agreed to testify earlier this year after a deal struck between the Biden Department of Justice and congressional Democrats, his remarks limited to “publicly available portions of the Mueller Report,” according to a May 12 court filing.

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Thousands of inmates given the chance to serve their sentence at home because of COVID-19 might go back to prison cells

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In this Aug. 16, 2016, file photo, general population inmates walk in a line at San Quentin State Prison in San Quentin, Calif.

  • Thousands of people imprisoned for low-level crimes have been serving their sentences at home because of the pandemic.
  • Because of a lingering legal opinion made under the outgoing Trump administration, these people might have to return to prison.
  • The Biden administration has yet to address the legal opinion.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A legal opinion made in the remaining days of the Trump administration might force incarcerated people who have been serving their sentences at home to return to prison.

Reuters reported that nearly 24,000 incarcerated individuals who’ve committed low-level crimes have been allowed to serve their sentence at home due to fears of the spread of the coronavirus. But the legal opinion has a clause that says these incarcerated individuals might be removed from their homes and put back into cells.

Congressional Democrats have called for the reversal of the legal opinion, written by the Justice Department under the Trump administration.

Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, along with more than two dozen other congressional lawmakers, asked Biden in a letter last week to prioritize the memo’s reversal and rescind it.

“We urge you to use your executive clemency authority or direct the Justice Department to seek compassionate release for people who have demonstrated that they no longer need to be under federal supervision,” the letter said.

The Biden administration has so far left the legal memo untouched.

The memo says the at-home sentences only apply to the period of time during which the coronavirus forces social distancing and quarantining. Once it’s lifted, the federal Bureau of Prisons “must recall prisoners in home confinement to correctional facilities” if there is no other reason for them to stay at home, according to Reuters.

About 7,400 BOP incarcerated individuals have remaining time to serve – and these are the individuals who might most be impacted if this memo isn’t rescinded.

“Words can’t really express how I feel to be home 11 years earlier. To get a job, to get a bank account,” said Kendrick Fulton, a 47-year-old man who was sentenced for selling crack cocaine. “I served over 17 years already. What more do you want? I should go back for another 11 years to literally just do nothing?”

In the time that he’s been home, Fulton got a job at a wholesale auto glass distributor, Reuters reported.

A BOP union official told Reuters correctional facilities no longer have the staff to get these individuals back to prison, calling the task “impossible.”

“We don’t have the staff,” Joe Rojas, Southeast Regional Vice President at Council Of Prison Locals, said to Reuters. “We are already in chaos as it is as an agency.”

Neither the BOP nor the Justice Department immediately responded to a request for comment.

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Biden breaks with Trump and says he’ll stick up for Federal Reserve’s independence

Trump Biden
  • Biden said he wanted to break with Trump in sticking up for the Federal Reserve’s independence.
  • “I want to be real clear that I’m not going to do the kinds of things that have been done in the last administration,” Biden said.
  • While he was in office, Trump pressured Fed Chair Powell against raising interest rates.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

President Joe Biden said on Tuesday he would safeguard the independence of the Federal Reserve, breaking with his predecessor, Donald Trump, who often tried pressuring the central bank to lower the cost of borrowing.

“Starting off my presidency, I want to be real clear that I’m not going to do the kinds of things that have been done in the last administration – either talking to the attorney general about who he’s going to prosecute or not prosecute … or for the Fed, telling them what they should and shouldn’t do,” he said at a White House news conference.

“I think the Federal Reserve is an independent operation,” he said, adding he does speak with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. The Treasury did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The remarks reflect another way that the president is distancing himself from his predecessor by preserving the Fed’s traditional independence from the White House. Trump heaped criticism onto Powell throughout his term, assailing him as “an enemy of the state” and a “terrible communicator” from his now-suspended Twitter account.

Trump furiously tried pressuring Powell from raising interest rates while the economy was in the middle of its longest expansion in history in the years leading up to the pandemic. At one point, he suggested Powell may be a “bigger enemy” of the US than China.

Powell played a critical role designing the Fed’s stimulus programs as vast swaths of the economy shut down last year. He also encouraged Congress to continue approving more federal aid for struggling individuals, small businesses, and state and local governments.

“Given the low level of interest rates, there’s no issue about the United States being able to service its debt at this time or in the foreseeable future,” he told NPR recently. Powell, a Trump nominee, has also downplayed the inflation risks stemming from the $1.9 trillion stimulus package.

Powell’s term as Fed chair expires in 2022, and Biden must decide whether to keep him onboard.

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Former Trump staffers are facing a ‘job desert’ in Washington after the Capitol siege

President Donald Trump signs the first of three Executive Orders in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC on Monday, January 23, 2017.
President Donald Trump signs the first of three Executive Orders in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC on Monday, January 23, 2017.

  • Many of Donald Trump’s ex-aides, including some Cabinet secretaries, are struggling to find new Washington jobs, The Washington Post reported.
  • Some, including former HUD Secretary Ben Carson and former adviser Stephen Miller, have opted to start their own organizations.
  • One Trump world insider told The Post he’s seen “many, many people” lose job offers following the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Many of former President Donald Trump’s ex-aides who’ve decided to stick around in the swamp are having a hard time finding new gigs.

Ever since the January 6 siege of the Capitol by Trump loyalists, former administration of all levels, including Cabinet secretaries, are struggling to score the lucrative or prestigious Washington jobs they’d hoped would be waiting for them post-Trump, The Washington Post reported.

Matt Schlapp, the chairman of the American Conservative Union who’s raked in millions lobbying the Trump White House, told The Post that former Trump staffers are radioactive in DC, at least for now. Schlapp said former President George W. Bush’s staffers faced a “jobs desert” after Bush left office as a deeply unpopular president, “but even that was nothing compared to what Trump/Pence people are finding themselves in today.”

He added, “If I had a dollar for every time someone in Washington said to me, hey, I’m really looking to hire someone for X job, but they can’t have worked for the Trump administration, I’d have a great sum of money.”

Armstrong Williams, a Trump world insider, told The Post that he’s seen “many, many people” lose job offers following the Capitol riot.

“I helped a very high-ranking Trump official secure a position, but after January 6th it was rescinded,” he said.

Higher-profile former Trump aides, including former HUD Secretary Ben Carson and former adviser Stephen Miller, have opted to start their own organizations since January. Carson has founded a conservative think tank called the American Cornerstone Institute and Miller is starting a group to work with Republican Attorneys General on suing President Joe Biden’s administration.

But other high-ranking former officials have fled Washington. Former White House Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders quickly relocated her family to her home state of Arkansas in preparation for her bid for governor. Former Homeland Security chief Kirstjen Nielsen sold her DC home and moved out of town, The Post reported.

Still others, including former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, former chief of staff John Kelly, and former National Security Adviser John Bolton, have publicly criticized the former president, particularly following the Capitol siege.

But it’s unclear how long the corporate and establishment distaste for Trump world will continue.

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