Of all the ludicrous promises Donald Trump made while he was running for president, the most absurd was his vow to “drain the swamp” — his shorthand for smashing the culture of corruption that cynics say is Washington’s main feature.
Trump was absolutely right to say that the system is rigged to benefit an elite class. Money and connections matter. The concerns of the “forgotten man” really are forgotten much of the time. Millions of his voters believed that Trump would drain the swamp once and for all. Many of them still do.
Trump builds the best swamps. He’s left a trail of slime behind him his whole career. He was an unethical businessman, stiffing his workers, creditors, customers, and the cities and states who OK’d his plans. As a small-time real-estate developer, he knew how to work the levers of government to get what he wanted: zoning abatements, tax breaks, casino licenses, protection. The whole racket.
Trump never intended to drain the swamp, of course. He used the phrase because he knew his only chance of winning was to divert the voters’ attention away from his own shortcomings. He knew voters thought he was dishonest and untrustworthy. The whole “what about Hillary?” ploy was just to remind them that they didn’t trust Hillary Clinton any better. “Whataboutism” is a classic propaganda diversion. He’s still doing it.
The bottom line is Trump is the most corrupt president in our history, and he has surrounded himself with the most unethical group of advisers and cabinet officials America has ever seen. Trump makes Teapot Dome look like a thimble. He makes Watergate seem like the third-rate hotel it was.
The corruption starts with Trump. “Often you see a lot of corruption result from a lack of oversight, but I think this administration is quite different in that Trump really sets the tone for all this,” presidential historian Robert Dallak told Vox. “He encourages it, really. The fish rots from the head, and the stench of this administration starts at the very top.”
According to a poll commissioned by Transparency International, 44% of Americans believe Trump and his advisers are corrupt. No other institution is as corrupt as the White House. A majority of 58% think corruption has gotten worse in the past year.
Most Americans believe Trump has filled the swamp, not drained it.
But enough with generalizations. What are the specifics? What are the swampiest, most corrupt moments of 2017? Here’s my list. Feel free to add your own favorites in the comments.
Lobbyists wrote the tax bill. The Republican congressional leadership invited corporate lobbyists to write the huge tax-cut bill that is giving hundreds of billions of dollars to corporations and their owners, and which sets the stage for large spending cuts in programs that tens of millions of Americans depend upon, such as Medicaid, Social Security, and Medicare.
Trump’s top donors
Trump pulled in $107 million in individual contributions, nearly doubling President Barack Obama’s 2009 record of$53 million. With the donations came a set of perks for top donors – “intimate” dinners with Vice President Mike Pence; exclusive luncheons with Cabinet appointees and congressional leaders; tickets to inaugural balls, dinners and luncheons with appearances by Trump.
The money came flooding in from corporate executives, owners of U.S. sports teams and other wealthy benefactors
Meet the Jews in Donald Trump’s inner circle
Top left, clockwise, Ivanka Trump, Jason Greenblatt, Boris Epshteyn and Steven Mnuchin (Trump photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images; Greenblatt photo: Uriel Heilman; Epshteyn photo: Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for SiriusXM; Mnuchin photo: Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images for City Harvest)
A look at the president-elect’s advisers and their possible roles in his incoming administration
President-elect Donald Trump has a complicated history with Jews. On the one hand, his daughter Ivanka converted to Orthodox Judaism before marrying Jared Kushner, and he’s spoken fondly about having Jewish grandchildren.
On the other, some of Trump’s supporters have links to the anti-Semitic far right movement known as alt-right, and he’s a favorite of prominent white supremacist David Duke. On Sunday, Trump appointed Stephen Bannon — the former chairman of Breitbart News, a site with ties to the alt-right — as his chief strategist in a move that sparked swift criticism from the Anti-Defamation League
Bannon and Breitbart: Friends of Israel, not anti-Semites
The donation was not only Trump’s largest inaugural contribution, but the largest individual donation made to any presidential inaugural committee. He and his wife, Miriam Adelson, also donated nearly $83 million to Republicans in the 2016 election.
In the past year Adelson has pressed Trump to follow through on his campaign pledge to relocate the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, a move Trump announced in December.
With promises to “drain the swamp!” still ringing in our ears, we have watched Trump appoint nothing but Goldman banksters, Soros stooges, neocon war hawks and police state zealots to head his cabinet. Join us this week on The Corbett Report as we examine the swamp-dwellers with which Trump has filled his swamp.