One of the signature lines of Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign was “drain the swamp.” Through the Republican was always a little vague about the meaning of the phrase, it was widely seen as an outsider’s vow to clean up the nation’s capital.
The Republican told NBC’s “Meet the Press” during the campaign that he’s tired of everybody in the nation’s capital “being controlled by the special interests and the lobbyists.” Trump went so far as to say he’d have “no problem” banning lobbyists from his administration altogether.
The promise has since become the punch-line to a sad joke, though at a White House event yesterday, the president made the case that he’s honoring his commitment – even if reality suggests otherwise.
“From the day I took the oath of office, I’ve been fighting to drain the swamp. And sometimes it may not look like it, but, believe me, we are draining the swamp. And there are a lot of unhappy people. You can see that every day. All you have to do is turn on the news. Every time you see me hit, you know that I’m draining the swamp. And people don’t like it.”
As a rule, when Trump says, “Believe me,” the public’s first instinct should be to not believe him.
That’s certainly true in this case because the only “unhappy people” we have seen “every day” are those who actually believed Trump’s campaign promises.
Because far from “draining the swamp” and combating corruption, Trump is leading an administration facing more ethics and corruption scandals than any in a generation. As for his opposition to special interests, remember this New York Times report from last year?
President Trump is populating the White House and federal agencies with former lobbyists, lawyers and consultants who in many cases are helping to craft new policies for the same industries in which they recently earned a paycheck.
The potential conflicts are arising across the executive branch, according to an analysis of recently released financial disclosures, lobbying records and interviews with current and former ethics officials by The New York Times in collaboration with ProPublica.
The Times highlighted “at least two” instances in which the administration appointed lobbyists to government posts in violation of the administration’s own ethics rules. There may be others, the article added, “but evaluating if and when such violations have occurred has become almost impossible because the Trump administration is secretly issuing waivers to the rules.”
No wonder there are there are “a lot of unhappy people.”