Newsweek

Trump Administration Most Corrupt In History

Donald Trump vowed to end the cronyism and corruption in D.C., but ethics experts say he is running the sleaziest administration in history.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump addresses a campaign rally at the Deltaplex Arena October 31, 2016 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. With just eight days until the election, polls show a slight tightening in the race.
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He’d promised to build the wall. To make America great again. To lock her up. Now, in the last weeks of his campaign for president, Donald J. Trump needed one more stirring slogan. And since he was badly trailing Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, it would have to be a marketing marvel worthy of Mad Men’s Don Draper, one that encapsulated the vague yet compelling promise of his candidacy—its worship of American ideals and its total break from them.

On October 17, 2016, the Trump-Pence campaign released a five-point plan for ethics reform that featured lobbying restrictions that would insulate Trump and his administration from corporate and interests. The plan was called “drain the swamp.”

Trump tried out the phrase that day at a rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin. He used it the next day at a rally in Colorado Springs, Colorado. “We’re going to end the government corruption,” Trump vowed, “and we’re going to drain the swamp in Washington, D.C.” He then recited a litany of accusations regarding Clinton and her use of a private email server, calling her “the most corrupt person to ever run for the presidency.”

“Build the wall” had been the raw opening cry of the Trump campaign. “Make America great again” was its chorus. “Drain the swamp” was its closing number. But while talk of a border wall plainly thrilled Trump, he was apparently never too worked up about the festering bog that was the nation’s capital. He said as much in an October 26 rally in Charlotte, North Carolina, in one of his unsettling bouts of honesty: “I said that about a week ago, and I didn’t like it that much, didn’t sound that great. And the whole world picked it up.… Funny how things like that happen.… So ‘drain the swamp,’ I didn’t like it. Now, I love it, right?”

“Drain the swamp” fit perfectly with Trump’s constant complaints about the “rigged system,” thereby excusing what some said was going to be a historic defeat. As the campaign concluded, Trump turned himself into a martyr for the cause of American democracy, waging a principled but doomed campaign.

But a funny thing happened on the way to a third Obama term. Winning endowed the things Trump said during the campaign with an import they’d previously lacked. He was, back then, a hopeless renegade, troubling but not threatening. Then, the returns from Florida and Wisconsin came in on the evening of November 8. And while many understood that his “rigged system”

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