The Promise: 'Drain the Swamp' and Reform the U.S. Government

Campaigning as an outsider bent on tossing out the old, corrupt system and starting fresh, Donald Trump pitched himself as a reformer who could restore Americans' trust in the government with a package of ethics reforms. 

His plan to “drain the swamp” in Washington, D.C. included placing restrictions on executive officials becoming lobbyists after leaving the public sector, something he accomplished in the first days of his administration with an executive order, and setting term limits for Congress, something that will prove much harder, if not impossible, to accomplish. He vowed to bring businesslike efficiency to the federal government, and said he would prosecute rival Hillary Clinton. He has since walked back that promise.

We'll watch to see whether Trump can restore trust in a government he derided while navigating his own conflicts of interest arising from his businesses. We will also look to see if he can root out corporate and lobbyist influence while keeping an eye on how government responds to things like his federal hiring freeze.

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Fmr Ethics Director: Trump Setting Wrong Tone

Outgoing Ethics Director: Appearances Count on Trump Financial Conflicts

WASHINGTON — The outgoing head of the federal government’s ethics watchdog agency said he is leaving his post still unsure whether President Donald Trump is using the White House to enrich his businesses and himself.

"I can't know what their intention is," Walter Shaub Jr., the director of the independent Office of Government Ethics, said in an interview with CBS News. "I know that the effect is that there's an appearance that the businesses are profiting from his occupying the presidency. And appearance matters as much as reality.”

Shaub wrote Trump on Thursday to inform him he would be resigning later this month. The government ethics director clashed with the White House even before Trump was sworn in, especially when it came to how the real estate mogul handled his business interests after his election victory.


Trump's Frequent Travel to Trump Properties Prompts Ethics Concerns

During the campaign, Trump argued that Americans should vote for him because he would rarely leave Washington. He promised that he wouldn't go golfing or take vacations, because there was too much work to do.

But President Donald Trump frequently uses his luxury properties for government business and leisure, prompting ethics concerns over a president appearing to promote his private enterprise at public cost.

As of July 4, Trump has spent 50 days at his properties since taking office — and 36 of those were at one of his golf properties. The precise number of times Trump has played golf isn't known, however. His administration has tried to hide Trump's activity, keeping his traveling press pool away and often refusing to confirm whether he has played golf. Instead, social media has become a source of crowd-sourced reporting into the president's whereabouts.

President Trump Tweets WWE Video of Himself Attacking ‘CNN’

"The president in no way form or fashion has ever promoted or encouraged violence. If anything, quite the contrary."

— Principal Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, June 29, 2017

Poll: More Americans Believe Comey Over Trump

D.C., Maryland Officials Hit President Trump With Lawsuit

White House Grants 14 Ethics Waivers to Staff

WASHINGTON — Drain the swamp?

Michael Catanzaro, a former oil and gas lobbyist, can help shape the Trump administration's energy policies. Shahira Knight can weigh in on retirement matters even though she previously worked for Fidelity, a financial company specializing in retirement services.

The White House posted on its website ethics waivers granted to four ex-lobbyists and numerous others who have joined government. In all, the White House has granted 14 ethics waivers.

Clapper on FBI Probe: ‘I Don’t Know If There Was Collusion’

Hours after the president tweeted alleging that former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper had said there was no collusion between his campaign and Russia, Clapper set the record straight on MSNBC.

My Dinner With Comey: Current and Former FBI Officials Dispute Trump Account of Meeting With FBI Director

Fact Checking Donald Trump's Interview With NBC's Lester Holt