Under Trump, the swamp continues to fester

Under Trump, the swamp continues to fester
4 min read
05 Apr, 2018
Comment: Politifact found that the president has been truthful only 31 percent of the time, writes Imad K. Harb.
'Anyone with a good reputation will want to avoid this ethically challenged president' [Getty]
After eight years of the Obama administration, Americans may have grown to expect an ethical government that followed in the footsteps of an ethical president.

Unfortunately, this is no longer the case.

As has been apparent since January 2017, the Trump administration has shown great disregard for the moral high ground that other administrations have striven to reach in Washington's very political world.

Scandals galore

Indeed, Trump's administration is in a class of its own, normalising the unacceptable, and allowing the prohibited. From the president down, examples of unethical behavior abound and define the administration's day-to-day operations.

Among other things, President Trump is accused of trying, through his lawyer and friends to silence former mistresses. The accusation comes after multiple women came forth during the presidential campaign with allegations of harassment; one of whom is now suing him for defamation.

There is also a lawsuit against the president for accepting "gifts from foreign interests" in violation of the emoluments clause  of the constitution that prohibits him from benefitting from his position.

The president, it seems, has had a problem telling the truth.

The Trump administration has hired almost 200 lobbyists in positions where they have direct impact on business related to their former clients

The website Politifact, a fact-checking project found that the president has been truthful only 31 percent of the time; 69 percent of his statements have been mostly false, false, or "pants on fire" fibs. And the list goes on.

Administration personnel have had their run ins with ethical questions, too. Some have been fired or resigned after their violations became public, while others remain in office despite criticism.

Secretary for Health and Human Services Tom Price resigned last September for extravagant use of private planes. His Secretaries of the Treasury, Steve Mnuchin, Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson, and Interior Ryan Zinke, as well as the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency are living it up at the American taxpayers' expense.

Trump's personal aide, Rob Porter, served for months after the White House was notified that he couldn't get security clearance because he physically abused two ex-wives. He resigned when it was no longer possible to defend his retention. Reports have surfaced lately that the president wants him back, despite the ethical cloud hanging over his head.

Read more: Fire but no fury: How long will 'Teflon Trump' last?

Hope Hicks, White House Communications Director, ended her tenure on 29 March after telling a congressional investigation that she occasionally told white lies on behalf of the president.  

Briefings by WH Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders are no more than sessions for obfuscation and trading barbs with the White House press corps. The same Politifact website found that Sanders' answers were 100 percent untruthful (75 percent of her statements were false and 25 percent were "pants on fire" lies).

The swamp still festers

This situation within the Trump administration far outdoes any of the nefarious politics Washington might have seen before. The levels of corruption experienced by the United States in its almost two-and-a-half centuries of political independence are shocking.

Trump's promise to "drain the swamp" in Washington - a euphemism for cleaning the city of double-dealing, special interest lobbying, and influence peddling, among other unsavoury practices - has been forgotten. 

Quite the opposite in fact; new creatures are rising from the muck of this swamp. A new report prepared by ProPublica stated that the Trump administration has hired almost 200 lobbyists in positions where they have direct impact on business related to their former clients.

Trump's son-in-law and advisor Jared Kushner still serves in the White House without the requisite security clearance. He is now accused of receiving two loans for his real estate company worth more than $500 million from two financial firms, with whose officials he met multiple times.

In fact, Kushner is said to be an easy target for foreign manipulation because of his financial needs. Moreover, his role in the White House and that of his wife - the president's daughter Ivanka, are perfect examples of nepotism that many administrations have guarded against and been punished for in years gone by.

The above, and myriad other failings are at the heart of President Trump's inability to find qualified people to staff his administration. This problem will only worsen with time, for anyone with a good reputation will want to stay away from this ethically challenged president.

No wonder then, that Mr Trump cannot even find a lawyer to defend him in the most serious challenge to his presidency: The accusation that his campaign colluded with Russia during the last presidential election.

And this is not counting the detrimental effect on the president's domestic agenda - poor as it is - and the impact the United States has had on international affairs for decades.

In the end, however, scandals will remain what they are: Stains of dishonour on the person of the president and the office he occupies. The longer they last, the less successful and influential will the United State be.

Imad K. Harb is the Director of Research and Analysis at Arab Center Washington DC.

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The New Arab.

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