Ten Reasons Trump is the Most Corrupt President in U.S. History
This website focuses on corruption of American politics and policy, so we’ve been busy for four years. Donald Trump, with a few months left in his presidential term, is the most corrupt president in U.S. history — meaning he has, more than any predecessor, used his powerful job to advance his own financial, political, and personal interests, and those of his cronies and patrons.
Here are 10 of the biggest reasons why Trump deserves this terrible distinction:
1. Instead of draining the swamp, he’s made it much dirtier. Candidate Trump famously promised to drain the DC swamp. But President Trump has given top administration jobs to people — including Scott Pruitt, Ryan Zinke, Tom Price, Diane Auer Jones, Mike Pompeo, and many others — who have engineered the administration’s wholesale steering of policy and regulations to help big bad-behaving corporations, from polluting, climate change-denying oil companies to predatory for-profit colleges. These individuals, before or after working for Trump, often took big paying jobs in those same industries, and some, while in government, have grabbed a wide range of personal perqs to enrich themselves and advance their political interests.
Big donors to Trump’s campaigns have repeatedly sought and received government jobs and government favors from Trump and his underlings. Trump has mingled with some of Washington’s worst corporate lobbyist swamp creatures, like Bush crony C. Boyden Gray, who have bankrolled Trump’a efforts. Under Trump, government and the policies that affect our daily lives are for sale to the highest bidder.
Meanwhile, six former Trump campaign and White House aides — Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, Michael Flynn, and others — have been criminally convicted by federal prosecutors on charges arising out of the Russia investigation, ranging from lobbying abuses to obstruction of justice; a seventh, Steve Bannon, was recently charged in a scheme to defraud Trump supporters; and another Trump crony and Republican National Committee official pled guilty this month on foreign influence-peddling charges.
2. He’s personally pocketed millions in taxpayer, lobbyist, donor, and foreign dollars. Trump has caused federal agencies to spend at least $2.5 million to rent high-priced rooms at his company’s hotels, improperly profiting off his presidency. Corporations, political committees, lobby groups, and foreign governments seeking to curry favor with Trump, plus his own presidential campaign, have spent much more — well above $12 million — at his properties.
3. He’s corrupted the tax system and fudged his own taxes. Trump steered most of his tax cut to the wealthiest people and corporations and then bragged to rich friends at his country club, “You all just got a lot richer.” Meanwhile, he has concealed his own tax returns, which, when leaked, revealed that he paid almost no taxes, claiming huge losses to the IRS, while at the same time, to get new loans, telling banks that he was making big money.
Also, in 2019, Trump agreed to pay $2 million to charity as part of a settlement with law enforcement in which he admitted he misused funds raised by the non-profit, tax-exempt Donald J. Trump Foundation to support his presidential campaign and pay business and personal expenses.
4. He’s gutted health care. Out of hatred for President Obama, and to appease corporate interests, Trump has sought, even as the COVID-19 pandemic has raged, to eviscerate the Affordable Care Act, with its protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions, and then repeatedly has told Americans the lie that he has a new, better health plan ready to go, when he’s never had any plan at all.
5. In the pandemic, he’s sacrificed American lives to a failed re-election strategy. Trump has made COVID-19 — 225,000 Americans dead and counting — much worse, covering up and lying about the disease’s contagiousness and thus allowing the spread to intensify, in hopes of not tanking the stock market and his re-election momentum, and then continuing to downplay the dangers, hold super spreader events, and undermine mask-wearing and other measures that could save U.S. lives.
6. He has sought to undermine the integrity of our elections, with the aim of improving his chances to win. Trump has falsely claimed widespread voting fraud by Democrats. He has publicly declared that the only way he can lose the election is if the Democrats cheat, refused to say he will peacefully transfer power, and told his supporters he should get “twelve more years,” instead of four. He’s also urged and endorsed efforts by his underlings and supporters to act in intimidating, threatening, and illegal ways toward Democratic voters.
Trump also has sought foreign regime interference in US elections, even withholding congressionally-mandated military aid to Ukraine to pressure that country’s president to announce a phony investigation of Joe Biden — an abuse that got Trump impeached by the House of Representatives and led a majority of Senators to declare him culpable. He has pressed his intelligence agencies to downplay evidence that Russia is interfering to help him in 2020, as it did in 2016.
He and his administration have endlessly violated the Hatch Act by using government officials and resources to advance his re-election.
He has pushed to undermine the integrity of the 2020 U.S. Census to increase Republican electoral power.
Also: In 2018, a federal court in New York accepted a guilty plea from Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen based on evidence that he acted on orders from Trump to pay hush money to a porn star, and conceal the payment in violation of federal election laws.
7. He has shown devotion to Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, repeatedly praising him, publicly endorsing his denials of election interference, aggressively hiding the contents of their conversations, and failing to ask him about reports from U.S. intelligence that Russia has offered bounties to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan or about the poisonings, beatings, and killings of Putin critics. Also, in 2017, Trump delayed for months, beyond the legal deadline, implementing a bipartisan bill, passed by overwhelming, veto-proof margins in both houses of Congress, that imposed new sanctions on Russia in the wake of its tampering with the 2016 election. What is the hold that Putin has on Trump?
8. He’s engaged in repeated obstruction of justice and of Congress in the Russia, Ukraine, and other matters. He pressured FBI director James Comey to drop an investigation of former national security advisor Michael Flynn, who had lied to the FBI, and fired Comey after the investigation went forward anyway. He told White House counsel Don McGahn to fire Russia prosecutor Robert Mueller. He fired whistleblowers who have testified to Congress and dismissed five inspectors general who were looking into administration misconduct.
While obstructing and corrupting justice, Trump has taken the parallel step of corrupting and undermining the truth, telling lie after lie on matters big (election fraud) and small (whether he knew he used a Sharpie to alter a hurricane map) and despicably branding the news media “the enemy of the people.”
9. He has tried to make the Justice Department do his corrupt bidding — pushing it to go easy on close political underlings like Michael Flynn and Roger Stone (whose sentence Trump eventually commuted) and, with less success, to prosecute his political enemies like Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, James Comey, Andrew McCabe, and Joe Biden.
10. He has driven racism and racist violence. To fire up the worst elements of his political base, and satisfy his own personal prejudices and grievances, Trump has spewed racial hatred — and sewed racial division and violence. Building on his vile “birther” attacks on President Obama, and his 2016 campaign attacks on immigrants, he’s referred to African nations and Haiti as “shithole countries.” He called called Omarosa Manigault Newman, a Black woman whom he had hired to work on the White House staff a “dog” and a “lowlife.” He called Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) “an extraordinarily low IQ person.” He tweeted about four elected Members of Congress who are women of color, all US citizens, three of them born in the United States: “Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.” He called the Baltimore district of Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) “a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess” and said the Atlanta district of Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) was “in horrible shape and falling apart (not to mention crime infested).” He has refused to repudiate the false claim that Biden’s running mate, Senator Kamala Harris, whose parents immigrated to the United States from India and Jamaica, is ineligible to be vice president, and he has called Harris a “monster.”
He has focused on keeping Latinx, Muslim, and other people of color out of the country and cruelly separated innocent children from parents at the Mexican border. He called the racists who marched in Charlottesville “very fine people” and called the assertion that “black lives matter” a “symbol of hate.” He has refused to denounce other hate groups or the killings of people protesting police shootings.