There is no campaign promise that Donald Trump has failed to honour more flagrantly than his repeated pledge to “drain the swamp.” In fact during his campaign he used the hash tag #DrainTheSwamp 78 times.
Trump’s promise to drain the swamp of Washington, delivered repeatedly and vigorously during the 2016 campaign, turned into a pledge of honor in his inaugural address when he said he would return government back to the people.
“For too long, a small group in our nation’s Capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost. Washington flourished – but the people did not share in its wealth. Politicians prospered – but the jobs left, and the factories closed. That all changes – starting right here, and right now, because this moment is your moment: it belongs to you.”
Since becoming president, Trump has not just failed to honour his pledge to “Drain the Swamp,” he has in fact created his own swamp.
The following list are examples where Trump or his associates have filled the swamp:
1. Trump promised to hand over control of business and have no interaction, Eric Trump contradicts this
Trump stated that he would put Donald Trump Jnr and Eric Trump in charge of his businesses, “I hope at the end of eight years I’ll come back and say, ‘Oh you did a good job.’” In an interview with Forbes Forbes – Interview with Eric trump, Eric trump did however state that he would be updating his father on the business “Yeah, on the bottom line, profitability reports and stuff like that, but you know, that’s about it.” How often will those reports be, every quarter? “Depending, yeah, depending.” Could be more, could be less? “Yeah, probably quarterly.” One thing is clear: “My father and I are very close,” Eric Trump says. “I talk to him a lot. We’re pretty inseparable.” ProPublica interviewed Trump Organization attorney Alan Garten, Garten confirmed that President Trump can withdraw profits and underlying assets from his trust at any time. He also said the president has been able to withdraw money since Trump took office ProPublica – Information on Trump trust. The trust is a far cry from a prior statement by Trump’s lawyers that he was “completely isolating himself from his business interests.”
2. Trump promised lobbyists would not form part of his government but appointed former lobbyists and needed to grant ethics waivers to 17 appointees
On June 1 2017, The White House has disclosed that it has granted ethics waivers to 17 appointees who work for Trump and Pence.
The waivers exempt the appointees from certain parts of the ethics rules aimed at avoiding potential conflicts of interest. The White House counsel’s office wrote that the administration had the need for the appointee’s expertise on certain issues.
Individuals who received waivers were:
- White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus
- Senior Advisor Kellyanne Conway
- Senior Strategist Stephen Bannon
- Three former lobbyists who serve as staffers to the National Economic Council, headed by Gary Cohn
- Domestic Energy and Environmental policy advisor Michael Catanzaro
- White House adviser on tax and retirement policy Shahira Knight
- Financial policy adviser Andrew Olmem
- Chief of Staff to Pence Joshua Pitcock
- Six members of the White house counsel’s office including counsel Donald McGahn
- President’s Commission on White House Fellowships Richard Holht, who is still a registered agent of Saudi Arabia and has earned roughly $430,000 from the government’s foreign ministry since January
White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters stated “The White House Counsel’s Office worked closely with all White House officials to avoid conflicts arising from their former places of employment or investment holdings,” later adding “To the furthest extent possible, counsel worked with each staffer to recuse from conflicting conduct rather than being granted waivers, which has led to the limited number of waivers being issued.”
3. Trump uses foreign government entities in his business despite promising not to
Donald Trump had pledged that his family business would not engage in any transactions with foreign government entities while he serves as president. Trump’s business partner, DAMAC Properties, awarded a $32-million contract to the Middle East subsidiary of China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC) to build a 6.4km six-lane road as part of the residential development of the Trump World Golf Club Dubai project called Akoya Oxygen DAMAC Properties press release.
4. Trump uses campaign and Republican national Committee funds to pay legal bills from Russia probe
CNN reported that the Republican National Committee paid in August more than $230,000 to cover some of Trump’s legal fees related to the probe. While previous presidential campaigns have used these funds to pay for routine legal matters such as ballot access disputes and compliance requirements, Trump is the first U.S. president in the modern campaign finance era to use such funds to cover the costs of responding to a criminal probe, said election law experts. In October Trump put almost $500,000 of his own money towards the legal bills of his administration staff and campaign aides who are embroiled in the Russia investigation. Trump has reportedly promised to use his personal finances to match the $430,000 paid by the Republican National Committee towards Mr Trump Jnr’s legal bills.
5. Scott Pruitt
The head of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Scott Pruitt eventually resigned due to claims of ethics misconduct.
Scott Pruitt was under scrutiny over first-class travel at taxpayer expense, security spending, connections with lobbyists and industry groups, accusations of using his office for favours, a soundproof phone booth for his office and his rental of a high-end condo from an energy lobbyist’s wife.
First-class travel at taxpayers expense – Pruitt has repeatedly flown first class. There are government rules which allow for upgrades in certain situations, such as when the flight is over 14 horus or if there are exceptional security concerns. Arguably none of these apply to Pruitt’s travel in first class, this cost US taxpayers $92,700
Security spending – Pruitt received 24/7 protection from a security detail roughly three times his predecessor, this cost US taxpayers $3,500,000. This includes travel for agents who accompany him on trips.
Connections with lobbyists and industry groups – Pruitt is a close ally of the fossil fuel industry, and was known for questioning the human role in climate change. As Oklahoma’s former attorney general, he fought against many of the environmental rules implemented by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Pruitt also visited Morocco at a cost of $100,000. The trip was arranged by lobbyist Richard Smotkin, a friend of Pruitt who subsequently received a lucrative contract from the Moroccan government.
Accusations of using his office for favors – Emails obtained by the Sierra Club environmental group showed Pruitt had an aide contact the chief executive of a fast-food chain about his wife becoming a franchise owner.
Soundproof phone booth – A soundproof booth was installed in Pruitt’s office at a cost of $42,729. This included CCTV removal ($7,978), concrete ($3,470), drop ceiling ($3,361), patch and paint job ($3,350) and soundproof booth ($24,570).
Rental of high-end condo from an energy lobbyist’s wife – Pruitt had been renting a room in a condo from Vicki and Steven Hart, lobbyists whose firm has lobbied the EPA on behalf of an Oklahoma energy company. His daughter also reportedly lived there while she was interning in Washington.
6. Michael Flynn
Michael Flynn was named as Trump’s National Security Adviser in January 2017, but was forced to resign from his post for inappropriate communication with Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak.
In December 2017 Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, pleaded guilty on Friday to willingly and knowingly make false, fictitious, and fraudulent statements and representations in a matter within the jurisdiction of the executive branch of the government of the United States, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in relation to discussions with the Russian Ambassador on or about December 22 and 29, 2016.
7. Chris Collins
Alleged Insider Trading – On 8 August 8, 2018 Federal prosecutors on Wednesday charged Chris Collins, his son and another man with 13 counts of securities fraud, wire fraud and false statements stemming from an alleged insider trading scheme centered on an Australian pharmaceutical company.
Collins was the first sitting member of Congress to endorse Donald Trump’s presidential bid.
Collins could face up to 150 years in prison if convicted on all counts.
Chris Collins told reporters that he would:
“Not address any issues related to Innate Immunotherapeutics outside of the courtroom.”
“As I fight to clear my name, rest assured, I will continue to work hard for the people and constituents of the 27th Congressional District of New York, and I will remain on the ballot running for re-election this November.”
8. Paul Manafort
Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, has agreed to cooperate with Robert Mueller’s inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
The astounding development was announced in court in Washington DC on Friday morning, where Manafort confessed to two criminal charges as part of a plea deal. Manafort responded to the charges with “I’m guilty.”
Manafort signed a 17-page plea agreement that said he would assist government prosecutors with “any and all” matters, and brief officials about “his participation in and knowledge of all criminal activities”. He also agreed to turn over documents and testify in other cases.
Manafort pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the US and conspiring to obstruct justice in return for other charges being dropped. Mueller’s team indicated that Manafort would receive a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
Last month Manafort, 69, was convicted of eight counts in a fraud case brought in Virginia by Mueller, the special counsel. A further 10 charges, on which the Virginia jury was deadlocked, will also be dropped as part of the deal.
9. Michael Cohen
Guilty of campaign finance violations – On August 21, 2018, Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to eight counts including campaign finance violations, tax evasion and making false statements in federal court in New York.
Cohen said he was directed to violate campaign law at the direction of a candidate for federal office. At the same candidate’s direction, he said he paid $130,000 to somebody to keep them quiet, which was later repaid by the candidate. He didn’t identify the candidate or the person who was paid, but those facts match Cohen’s payment to Clifford and Trump’s repayment.
10. Wilbur Ross
Fails to Divest Stock – On 12 July, 2018, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross admitted to “errors” in failing to divest assets required by his government ethics agreement and said he would sell all his stock holdings.
The Office of Government Ethics (OGE) said in a letter:
“Your failure to divest created the potential for a serious criminal violation on your part and undermined public confidence.”
11. Tom Price
Use of Private Planes – Tom Price, the health and human services secretary, resigned 29 September 2017, in the midst of a scandal over his use of private planes.
The department’s inspector general had been investigating Price for using private jets for multiple government business trips, including over very short distances.
Price said he will reimburse the government $52,000 for his seat on the planes, though not for the full cost of chartering the flights. The total cost, which also includes overseas trips on military aircraft, likely exceeds $1 million
12. Ben Carson
$31,000 dining set – The US secretary for housing and urban development (Hud), has scrapped an order for a $31,000 dining set for his Washington office amid a growing ethics controversy.
A former HUD chief administration office, Helen Foster, has stated that she was repeatedly told in early 2017 to “find money” for Candy Carson to purchase furniture. Candy Carson is not a HUD employee.
13. Jared Kushner
Securing Kushner Family Loans – The New York Times reported the Kushner family business got $500 million in loans from companies after he had meetings with those companies’ executives in his capacity as a White House adviser.
Secret Communication Channels – During Trump’s transition to the White House Jared Kushner proposed to Segei Kislyak, Russia’s ambassador to Washington that they should set up a secret channel of communication using secure Russian facilities.
14. Melania Trump
Chain Migration – On 10 August, 2018, President Trump’s in-laws officially became United States citizens. Viktor and Amalija Knavs, the parents of first lady Melania Trump obtained their citizenship through the sponsorship of their adult daughter, through ‘chain migration.’
Chain migration is one of the categories of family visas that Trump has vowed to end.
Trump has tweeted about getting rid of ‘chain migration’ 11 times, most recently on 30 July, 2018.
We must have Border Security, get rid of Chain, Lottery, Catch & Release Sanctuary Cities – go to Merit based Immigration. Protect ICE and Law Enforcement and, of course, keep building, but much faster, THE WALL!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 30, 2018
15. Ivanka Trump
Potential Conflict of Interest – Seven trademarks were officially registered to Ivanka Trump by China’s State Administration for Industry and Commerce. They are for items such as kitchenware, furniture, paper products and cosmetics.
The approvals come as President Donald Trump remains engaged in trade negotiations with China on a wide range of issues.