Donald Trump has failed in 5 ways to ‘drain the swamp’


In the waning days of the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump repurposed a well-worn catchphrase at a Wisconsin rally that not only resonated with his base of supporters but seemed to sum up his outsider White House bid: “Drain the swamp.”

campaign photo in USA

One year into his first term, however, Trump’s pledge to root out Washington corruption has not exactly yielded the quick and easy results his slogan promised. Perhaps as a result, a new poll finds a sharp jump over the past 12 months in the number (44 percent) of Americans who think that most or all of the officials in the current administration are corrupt.

Here are five ways in which the Washington swamp has survived, and even thrived, under Trump.  

The lobbying boom

Trump’s swamp-draining project involved a five-point plan for scaling back the influence of lobbyists. So far, the president has made good on just one of those proposals: an executive order in January imposing a five-year ban on lobbying for outgoing administration officials. Questions have been raised about the legality of the ban, and it remains to be seen how it will be enforced.

A man holds up a “Drain the Swamp in Washington DC” sign as Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump attends a campaign event at the airport in Kinston, N.C., Oct. 26, 2016.

Trump’s promise to push for a similar five-year ban on lobbying for members of Congress has yet to materialize. Meanwhile, the traffic has been mostly in the other direction, with more than 100 lobbyists named to positions in his administration, the majority serving at the very agencies they once tried to influence. The January executive order was meant to curb that practice as well, but within months the administration began granting waivers to allow lobbyists to take jobs regulating the industries they previously worked for.

Outside of government, a flood of lobbyists — many linked to the administration, including former Trump campaign manager Cory Lewandowski — have set up shop in Washington with the promise of selling White House influence. Through the first six months of the year, companies and interest groups spent a whopping $1.67 billion on lobbying, according to figures from the Center for Responsive Politics.

“I don’t think that anything’s really changed,” Republican lobbyist Brian Wild told Politico. “If anything, the lobbying business is booming right now.”

Amended staff disclosures

As a candidate, Trump assured voters he would appoint “only the best and most serious people” to his administration. Accurately filling out financial disclosure forms, however, has proved elusive for many of his appointees.

Former national security adviser Michael Flynn departs U.S. District Court in Washington Dec. 1. He pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia’s ambassador to the United States.

Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, has amended his financial disclosure forms 39 times, according to the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics. In his July revisions, for instance, Kushner revealed that he had “inadvertently omitted” over 70 assets worth $10.6 million, and he added the names of more than 100 foreign contacts not previously disclosed.

Michael Flynn, who Trump says he fired for lying to the FBI and the vice president, amended his disclosure forms in August to include business contacts with an Iranian-American as well as consulting payments for a project to build nuclear power plants in the Middle East. This month, Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about conversations he had with the Russian ambassador to the U.S.

Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and longtime Trump business associate Rick Gates have been charged with money laundering, for allegedly moving millions of dollars through foreign shell companies. Three days after Gates surrendered and the terms of his bail agreement were being set, his lawyers admitted that their client had failed to disclose that he was in possession of a second passport.