Donald Trump is one symptom of a wider problem that’s making the United States weaker on the international stage.
If they’ve been paying attention, Americans have received some rude wake-up calls in recent years. What unpleasant news do these messages convey? The country is a lot more corrupt than Americans realized.
Since 2016, of course, concern for corruption has been riveted on the sleaze show that is the Trump administration. As the New York Times revealed last fall in a remarkable investigative report, U.S. President Donald Trump’s life since boyhood has rested on assorted frauds, tax scams, and shady business dealings, and his recent conduct suggests high office did not alter the family’s modus operandi.
Since becoming president, Trump has breezily ignored the emoluments clause of the Constitution, handed taxpayers a multimillion-dollar bill for his frequent trips to his own properties, appointed his daughter and son-in-law to sensitive positions for which they are manifestly unqualified, and surrounded himself with a host of shady characters. Former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and several other campaign advisors has been convicted of fraud or other crimes, former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn has been convicted of lying to the FBI, and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke both resigned over ethics violations. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta is under fire for the plea deal he gave the wealthy and well-connected accused sexual predator Jeffrey Epstein back when Acosta was a U.S. attorney in Florida, and Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross continues to serve despite serious conflicts of interest.
Instead of fulfilling his campaign promise to “drain the swamp,” Trump dug it wider and filled it deeper. Small wonder that the United States has fallen out of the ranks of the top 20 “least corrupt” nations—according to the watchdog group Transparency International—and is now considered a “country to watch” by that nonpartisan organization.