Surprising no one, a new report out Wednesday finds that President Donald Trump has broken his campaign promise to "drain the swamp" at every turn, and has instead turned the government over to corporate interests and enriched his bottom line.
The joint report from advocacy groups Public Citizen and Every Voice analyzes the two months since Trump took office and concludes that the new administration is mired in corruption and conflicts, while the president himself has hired the very figures he claimed he would fight—big-money donors, lobbyists, and Wall Street executives.
In fact, the administration has failed to live up to even its own "painfully inadequate" ethics standards, the groups said. That includes refusing to divest from his corporate empire, conducting private business deals overseas while decrying foreign trade, and failing to donate the Trump Organization's foreign profits to the U.S. Treasury—thereby violating the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, according to Public Citizen and other watchdogs.
The report, "Broken Promises: How Trump Is Profiting Off the Presidency and Empowering Lobbyists and Big Donors," outlines some of the discrepancies between what Trump promised and what he actually did:
- Trump promised: To "isolate" himself from the management of the Trump family businesses.
In reality: Trump's business partners were invited to his inauguration; a Kuwaiti Embassy event at a Trump hotel raised questions about violations of the foreign bribery clause of the Constitution; Trump's rollback of environmental protections will benefit his golf courses.
- Trump promised: That the Trump businesses will not pursue "new" foreign deals.
In reality: After a decade of inaction, the family businesses restarted a Dominican Republic project; a fight over trademarks of Trump's name in China was settled weeks after his inauguration, with the country approving the trademarks shortly after Trump asserted U.S. support for the "One China policy"; a businesswoman with ties to Chinese intelligence just bought a penthouse from Trump.
- Trump promised: To donate foreign profits from his Washington, D.C., hotel to the U.S. Treasury.
In reality: He has not donated these profits; the Trump Organization announced that the donation would be made at the end of the year. It remains unclear how the profit will be calculated, and the money received from foreign entities that isn't profit still violates the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution.
- Trump promised: To appoint an independent ethics officer for the Trump businesses.
In reality: He appointed a loyal Republican election lawyer and a longtime attorney for the Trump family business. It's not clear whether vetting is actually happening.
"The ethics commitments made by the Trump administration exactly two months ago were painfully inadequate, yet we at least imagined that the fanfare with which they were announced would cause someone to feel accountable to implementing them within the government," said Lisa Gilbert, vice president of legislative affairs for Public Citizen. "Sadly, they have been unable to effectively follow even these milquetoast commitments, and the Trump administration is well on its way to becoming the most scandal-ridden administration in history."
David Donnelly, president and CEO of Every Voice, a group that fights against big money in politics, added, "Every day that Donald Trump refuses to take his conflicts of interest and the threat of wealthy special interest influence in his administration seriously, he fails the millions of voters who supported him because of their sincere belief he'd reduce the power of lobbyists and big donors if elected."
"In just two months, he has shown himself to be everything that on the campaign trail he expressed to hate about Washington—a self-dealer more interested in helping his friends and big donors than creating a democracy that works for all of us," Donnelly said.