The swampiest moments of the Trump administration so far

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“For too long,” Trump said, “a small group in our nation’s Capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost. Washington flourished — but the people did not share in its wealth. Politicians prospered — but the jobs left, and the factories closed. … That all changes — starting right here, and right now, because this moment is your moment: it belongs to you.”
But the intervening year and a half of his administration has been tagged by a dizzying number of side plots, dramas, scandals, allegations and now criminal cases involving people in Trump’s orbit allegedly using the organs of government to enrich themselves or running seriously afoul of ethics rules designed to protect against even the appearance of such a conflict.
This week has been especially swampy. Take your pick among:
  1. The insider trading charges against Trump ally Rep. Chris Collins for allegedly urgently calling in stock tips to his son from a White House party about a company Collins had ties to and which he simultaneously oversaw in Congress. Collins has pleaded not guilty.
  2. The IRS agent walking a Virginia court through the complicated alleged money laundering scheme used by Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort to clean millions he was bringing in from Ukraine.
  3. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who admitted last month to error in failing to divest assets as required under ethics rules, is now facing allegations of bilking friends and investors in a tough new Forbes report. Ross has vigorously denied those new allegations.
None of these things is directly related to the other, but collectively they feed into what has become an incredibly long list of swampy headlines (see: Pruitt, Scott).
Whether they’re currently being litigated, resulted in a resignation, were nothing more than coincidence, simply raised eyebrows or faded from view, this is an incredible body of work, although wrongdoing is universally denied:
Paul ManafortTrump’s former campaign manager allegedly laundered millions in foreign funds and his trial is ongoing. He’s pleaded not guilty.
Tom PriceBefore his confirmation as HHS secretary, he was accused of buying stock and then authoring a bill to benefit that company. He later resigned when his use of private planes as secretary became a scandal.
Scott PruittWhere to begin. He was ultimately forced out, but his list of controversies included outfitting a security force, perennially flying first class under the guise of security concerns, trying to get his wife a Chick-fil-A franchise, renting an apartment from a lobbyist. The list goes on. Pruitt is the poster boy for the swamp during the Trump administration so far.
Ryan ZinkeA small company in the Interior secretary’s hometown got a massive contract to rebuild Puerto Rico’s power grid. The FBI started an investigation, but Whitefish ultimately stopped work in Puerto Rico.
Melania TrumpAs part of a defamation lawsuit, which has since been settled, the first lady’s lawyers argued she has the opportunity to make millions because she is one of the most photographed women in the world.
President Donald Trump — All of these are above and beyond the fact that we don’t know everything about Trump’s own business arrangements. He has technically handed over control of his interests to his sons in New York through a trust, but he has not divested himself of his ownership stake. He also, notably, has not released his tax returns. And there are lawsuits alleging that his DC hotel, in particular, is being used by foreign governments to curry favor with the President.
Is this an exhaustive list? No! If there’s anything specific we missed, drop me a line on Twitter @zbyronwolf or at

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