On Thursday, Donald Trump spoke to shipyard workers in Wisconsin. During his speech, he stated that “one of the big factors” in the Navy awarding a $5.5 billion contract to their firm was, “your location in Wisconsin if you want to know the truth.”
It certainly sounded like Trump was confessing that his administration is corruptly using federal funds to boost his re-election campaign,
Trump’s shocking admission came when he veered off-script during a speech to employees of Fincantieri Marinette Marine, which is the firm chosen by the Navy to build 10 new guided-missile frigates for its FFG(X) program. The firm was chosen over rivals in Alabama, Mississippi, and Maine all three states are far less important in the electoral college.
Trump went on to state that the frigates would be the “fastest, most advanced, and most maneuverable combat ships anywhere on the ocean,” He then added, “I hear the maneuverability is one of the big factors that you were chosen for the contract. The other is your location in Wisconsin if you want to know the truth.”
Trump then began to boast that this “massive deal” would give new life to the employment situation in the state by allowing the firm to keep it’s “1,500 full-time employees” on staff and hire another 1,000 people “all across the shipyards in Wisconsin.”
Trump’s number were way off, the 2,500 people not 1,500.
Trump went on to claim that “an estimated 15,000 additional new jobs will be created through the Wisconsin supply chain,” then just moments later he changed that estimate to 9,000 without an explanation.
Wisconsin Rep. Mike Gallagher, who serves on the House Armed Services Committee, says Trump’s numbers are inflated. Back in April, he stated that the contract could create “more than 5,000 direct and indirect jobs” over the course of its 10-year duration.
Trump’s comments could be grounds for one of the three firms that lost out on the contract, Ingalls Shipbuilding of Pascagoula, Mississippi, Austal USA of Mobile, Alabama and Bath Iron Works of Bath, Maine, to file a protest complaint with the Government Accountability Office’s Procurement Law Division. Normally protests are filed within 30 days of a contract being awarded, however, there is nothing normal about a president publicly stating that a government contract process was corrupted by political consideration.
Trump of course spent a lot of time during his speech bragging about himself. He even claimed that he played a role in the new design of the Navy frigate. “The ships that they were building, they looked terrible. I changed designs. I looked at it. I said, ‘That’s a terrible looking ship. Let’s make it beautiful. It’ll cost you the same, and maybe less,’” Trump stated.
“I said, ‘This is not a good-looking ship, let’s change the design of it.’ And I got people in, and we looked at different designs,” Trump added. “And look at what you’re doing, how beautiful it is. They gave me a beautiful model that’s absolutely…. It’s like a yacht with missiles on it.”
The design is based on an Italian warship that already exists and in no way was the design influenced by Trump.