Donald Trump promised to “drain the swamp” of corruption in Washington, DC. Instead, he not only brought his own corruption and that of his family to the nation’s capital. He also opened the door of his administration to a whole slew of influence-peddlers, scam artists, and sleazy lobbyists.
Here are just a few of the worst examples:
Rot Starts at the Top: Donald Trump has violated the U.S. Constitution by using his office to enrich himself. He took from taxpayers more than a million bucks alone for the rooms the Secret Service detail used at his hotels. In his first two years of office, the president raked in $73 million from his foreign businesses and deals with autocratic countries like the Philippines and Turkey. Despite all the profits, the president paid virtually no income tax.
Where’s Jared and Ivanka? Since Trump took office, the firm that his son-in law Jared Kushner founded earned more than $90 million from foreign sources channeled through off-shore accounts. While Jared worked on a Middle East peace deal, he tried to get the Qatari government to bail out his father’s teetering real estate empire. Ultimately, a Qatar-linked fund provided over a billion dollars. In 2018, as her father was negotiating with the Chinese, Ivanka Trump acquired 34 trademarks from Beijing to sell her apparel and bling in China.
Profiting from the Pandemic: In the government bailout package to help businesses weather the pandemic-induced economic crisis, 27 clients of Trump-connected lobbyists received up to $10.5 billion. And as much as $273 million went to more than 100 companies owned or operated by major donors to Trump’s election efforts.
Cabinet Corruption Scandals: Several Trump administration officials have resigned under a cloud. Scott Pruitt stepped down as head of the Environmental Protection Agency during several ethics investigations over his cozy relations with lobbyists. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke resigned over corrupt real estate deals. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price was forced out for using almost $1 million in taxpayer money for traveling on private jets and military planes instead of cheaper commercial flights.
They’re Corrupt and They Haven’t Resigned! At the Department of Transportation, Elaine Chao has orchestrated deals to help her family’s Hong-Kong-based shipping business as well as the state of Kentucky, which husband Mitch McConnell represents in the Senate. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, once a lobbyist for western mining, oil, and gas companies, has taken at least 25 actions favorable to the interests of former clients. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross profited from foreign holdings—Chinese state-owned enterprises, a Russian shipping company—even as he was involved in negotiations with those countries.
For more details on the administration’s corruption, check out this map of Trump’s swamp.
Jim Lardner is a journalist and political activist.