Last June, my editors tasked me with an interesting, if arduous, assignment — compile a weekly record of the graft and double-dealing of the Trump administration. The dishonesty had started on day one, so we were admittedly late to the game. (But GEN began in 2019, so cut us some slack!) By summer 2020, the corruption was everywhere; it was a part of everything and everyone. The idea was to create a weekly bulleted index aggregating all the stories and developments. We called it the “Trump Corruption Index.” And we never lacked for material.
Since then, the president has been impeached a second time for his role in inciting a riot at the U.S. Capitol, and he’s about to hand over the keys to the Oval Office to the same guy he tried to get Ukraine to smear in 2019 — a stunt that earned him his first impeachment.
It’s a fittingly chaotic end to what’s been an unbelievably tumultuous four years. It also makes me wonder if, when we look back on the Trump years, we’ll remember the more mundane acts of wrongdoing — the PPP loans that benefited the Trump Organization, the demotion of government scientists who tried to prevent the administration from meddling with data — or if we’ll remain fixated only on our 45th president’s most egregious actions. I hope it’s not the latter. As bad as Trump’s actions were on January 6, plenty of dishonesty and nepotism preceded them.
The corruption I monitored can fit into one of four broad categories: the democracy-killing grift, Nixonian grift, bureaucratic grift, and the family-first grift. Although the news items within the four categories may overlap slightly, their underlying effects remain, at least to my mind, distinct. Be sure to check out the full series for a more complete overview of all the White House’s chicanery.
The democracy-killing grift
The United States has never seen a president like Donald Trump after losing the general election to President-elect Joe Biden on November 3, 2020. Trump lied…