Corruption countdown: The top 10 swampiest Trump cronies

Corruption countdown: The top 10 swampiest Trump cronies

  • 05/23/2020 11:54 am ET Sabrina Matthews and Corinne Zlatos
Woman holding anti-Trump sign


Donald Trump is not the only corrupt politician in Washington D.C. He has a team of corrupt federal officials to help him finagle or force his way through those who oversee him.

Trump often leads the news for bad behavior like election interference, which got him impeached, and most recently his botched response to the coronavirus. But the president can’t advance his schemes all alone.

Fill the Swamp! Fill the Swamp!

Trump may have coasted to the White House on chants of, “Drain the Swamp,” but in reality, he has stocked the swamp with corrupt officials. And these enablers and backers have schemes of their own.

Some high scorers on the Swamp Slime list.

A handful of GOP lawmakers convened with the president at Camp David on May 16. Was it to solve the COVID-19 crisis? Not according to CNN, which reported it was to plan “a way to advance baseless claims against former President Barack Obama.” Obama has called Trump’s leadership during the pandemic “an absolutely chaotic disaster.”

Scroll through for the latest rankings on our Swamp Slime Score sheet.

Find out who is the latest “winner” in our list of corrupt federal officials. Hint: He’s in the Cabinet.

10. Kevin McCarthy

Kevin McCarthy at a microphone

Screenshot / YouTube

McCarthy once referred to impeachment as “one of the worst decisions we have ever made.” The House Minority Leader has been a firm defender of Trump, following in his footsteps.

McCarthy received donations from Rudy Giuliani’s associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman. These two were suspects in the House Impeachment Inquiry. McCarthy’s campaign said it was returning those donations.

McCarthy has also referred to COVID-19 as the “Chinese coronavirus.”

9. Elise Stefanik

Stefniak at a podium with Trump behind her


The New York representative, once known for being a moderate, has thrown everything into defending Trump.

She was a Trump ally on the House Intelligence Committee during the impeachment hearings. And she’s pleased with her own performance, according to the Washington Post. “I’m proud of what I said in the impeachment hearings,” she said in an interview.

8. Dan Crenshaw

Dan Crenshaw speaking at an event

Flickr / Gage Skidmore

The congressman who wants business owners to break the shutdown laws joined Trump at Camp David. He might have been invited because of his viral defense of Trump’s decisions in April on the Bill Maher show. It was good enough to score him #8 on our list of corrupt federal officials.

7. Lee Zeldin

Zelden at an appearance on MSNBC

Screenshot / MSNBC

The New York representative was also named to Trump’s impeachment defense team for the House. NBC News found that Zeldin spent most of the impeachment hearing trying to get the witnesses to implicate the Bidens in some way.

6. Matt Gaetz

Matt Gaetz holding a microphone


The congressman who wore a gas mask to the House of Representatives was also at Camp David.

Gaetz broke protocol in October by invading an impeachment hearing. More recently, Gaetz stated that facts would “help us defeat this virus, not a bunch of Democrats trying to use it to try to weaponize politics against the President.”

5. Ivanka Trump

A photograph of Ivanka Trump in Dubai .

Screenshot / YouTube

Ivanka Trump opened her first store in China in Beijing in 2012. While her father conducts trade wars and deals with the Chinese government, Ivanka’s business interests in the country have continued. The government transparency nonprofit Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW)  has argued, “her trademarks remain a potential conflict of interest as she continues to work on policy in the White House and meet with foreign leaders.”

In 2019 China gave Ivanka’s company approval for five trademarks. Only a few months before, she had received 16 trademarks, including one for coffins. ”Trump’s company holds a variety of trademarks in China, including one for coffins.” Snopes confirmed.

4. Mark Meadows

Mark Meadows smiling

Flickr / Gage Skidmore

Trump’s current chief of staff, who was a tea party favorite when he was the Republican congressman from North Carolina, has been praised by Trump as a “very special guy.” He sat on Trump’s defense team during the impeachment hearings.

A source at the News Observer said during the impeachment hearings that “Congressman Meadows is in regular contact with the White House and the president’s legal team and is a crucial ally who amplifies the president’s views and the president’s case to the American people.”

3. Devin Nunes

Devin Nunes speaking at CPAC

Flickr/Gage Skidmore

Rep. Devin Nunes, once referred to as a “Trump lap dog,” was accused of being involved in the infamous Ukraine negotiations that led to Trump’s impeachment.

He also said that the COVID-19 shutdown was a great time to go out to eat, because tables were more readily available.

2. Jim Jordan

Screenshot of Jim Jordan's appearance on Fox News

Screenshot / Fox News

Jim Jordan, the Ohio representative, who went into “attack dog mode” during the impeachment hearings, has yet to address the scandal that darkens his name in his home state. A sex offender at the Ohio State University assaulted student athletes while Jordan was an assistant wrestling coach.

One story from NBC News quotes first-hand witnesses who say Jordan knew what was happening and did nothing. It seems that Jordan is comfortable working turning a blind eye to sex offenders, as he is now helping to provide cover to Donald Trump.

And the #1 Swamp Slime Scorer: Mike Pompeo

A photograph of Mike Pompeo.

Flickr / U.S. Department of State

It looks more and more like Steve Linick, the latest in a line of Inspectors General (IGs) to be fired by Donald Trump, was canned for his investigation of Mike Pompeo.

Linick’s office was investigating Pompeo’s role in the back door sale of arms to Saudi Arabia. Eliot Engel, the Democratic chair of the House foreign affairs committee, wrote about the “declaration of an emergency so he could send weapons to Saudi Arabia,” which caused him to support the investigation. The arms sale took place despite bipartisan condemnation for the Saudi war on Yemen, particularly after the brutal murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Trump said he didn’t even know Linick.

“Never heard of him,” Trump said. But the president dismissed the IG at Secretary of State Pompeo’s request.

State Department used as dog walkers.

The IG had also been looking into allegations that “a political appointee at the state department was being employed to run menial errands for Pompeo and his wife, Susan,” reports the Guardian. “The chores included walking the family dog, picking up dry cleaning and making dinner reservations.”

Pompeo could be using his office to get momentum for a run for the White House.

we see personal interest, political interest put ahead of the national interest,”

Pompeo may be using his position as Secretary of State for corrupt purposes, including to wine and dine donors for a potential 2024 White House bid. “in one of the most critical positions in the United States Government, the Secretary of State, we see personal interest, political interest put ahead of the national interest,” Ben Rhodes, a former Deputy National Security Advisor under Barack Obama, told MSNBC’s, Lawrence O’Donnell.

“There is no national interest served by Mike Pompeo having a bunch of fancy dinners in the State Department, with State Department employees essentially catering to the needs of a potential Republican donor… That’s just not in the mission of the Secretary of State.”

Trump started the firing process late on May 15th, timing the move on a Friday evening, which is a common play to avoid the full weight of a weekday news cycle. Congress has 30 days to block Linick’s removal.

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