Even putting aside the numerous corrupt and criminal actions by the current occupant of the White House, such as obstruction of justice as documented in the Mueller report and violations of the emoluments clause by receiving large amounts of money from various foreign countries and businesses through his hotels, the Trump administration is without a doubt the most thoroughly corrupt since at least Warren G. Harding was president from 1921-1923.
Former Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price was run out of the administration for using taxpayer funds to pay for charter flights to various speaking engagements but wasn’t prosecuted. Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin got a slap on the wrist for doing the same thing to the tune of over $800,000 and is still a Cabinet member. Former Texas governor and now Secretary of Energy Rick Perry has been investigated for using $56,000 in taxpayer money to pay for charter flights that could have been made on scheduled airlines for far less.
Before resigning in December, Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke was being investigated for possible self-dealing involving a developer working on a project near land in Montana owned by Zinke and his wife, Lola. The question is whether Zinke used his office for financial benefit; the Interior Department’s inspector general referred the matter to the Justice Department.
He also spent thousands of dollars of public money on charter flights that he could have made on regularly scheduled airlines for a few hundred dollars. In addition, friends and campaign contributors of Zinke were awarded a $300 million dollar contract to rebuild the power grid in Puerto Rico even though their company consists of only two people and the company has no experience with such a large scale project.
Former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt was under investigation by the inspector general of his agency prior to his resignation. The inspector general of the Environmental Protection Agency said that former Administrator Scott Pruitt wasted nearly $124,000 of taxpayer money on excessive travel, including first-class airline tickets. Pruitt had EPA staff help his wife, Marilyn, seek employment with an annual salary of more than $200,000. Just three months after Pruitt was sworn in as head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Pruitt used agency staff to contact Chick-Fil-A about his wife becoming a franchisee. Pruitt paid just $50 a night to stay in a Capitol Hill condominium linked to a prominent Washington lobbyist whose firm represents a long list of fossil fuel companies like Exxon.
Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson spent about $45,000 refitting his office, including $4,000 for new blinds, more than $8,000 for a dishwasher, and nearly $32,000 for a dining-room table. In March 2018, Congress asked the GAO to investigate the spending. While the blinds were found to be acceptable the table and dishwasher broke the law.
In February, the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) refused to certify Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’s financial disclosure statement because he hadn’t sold a stock that he claimed he had. Ross insisted the error was simply a mistake. His claim might have been more believable if the OGE hadn’t already had to warn Ross about inaccuracies in previous disclosures, and if he hadn’t also been caught lying to the press about his finances.
Late in the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump began using the slogan “Drain the swamp” to represent his purported intention to stamp out corruption and self-dealing in Washington. From the examples above its pretty clear he didn’t mean what he said.