In the year since Donald Trump was elected president on a promise to “drain the swamp” of Washington’s corruption, Americans have become more, not less, convinced that Washington is corrupt, and that the White House is the most corrupt institution in U.S. government.
A new public opinion poll conducted over the last two months found that Americans don’t believe that Trump is cleaning up the government. In fact, the opposite is true: 58 percent of people surveyed say the level of corruption has risen in the past 12 months, up from 34 percent who said the same in January 2016.
And more Americans put the blame at the top: 44 percent now believe that most or all of the officials in the Office of the President are corrupt — up from 36 percent last year, and worse than perceptions of Congress (38 percent of Americans believe Congress is the most corrupt institution).
Americans also suspect big business: 32 percent of those polled believe business executives are corrupt.
Trump’s administration also has not made Americans more confident that the government can stop double-dealing, fraud or dishonesty. Seven out of 10 Americans believe the government is failing to fight corruption—up from half last year.
The poll was commissioned by Transparency International, a Washington-based government oversight nonprofit that gauges conflicts of interests and other corruption in governments worldwide, and publishes an annual ranking of the most corrupt nations. Last year, before the Trump administration took office, the U.S. ranked 18th in terms of perceived corruption, with Denmark at number one, perceived as the most corruption-free nation. Somalia, at 176th, was perceived as the most corrupt.
Since before he took office, Trump and his family’s personal conflicts of interest, and his agencies’ revolving doors, have been widely reported on in the media and heavily criticized by ethics lawyers and government watchdogs.
While the president handed off day-to-day oversight of his company to his sons Eric and Donald, Jr., his hotels and golf courses have become vehicles for lobbyists and foreign dignitaries to curry favor with the administration, and, in the case of the golf courses, actually meet and play with the golf-loving president.
Shortly before his election last year, the Trump campaign trotted out a new slogan and a five-point plan for ethics reform that featured new lobbying restrictions. The plan was called “drain the swamp.”