History will teach that the Donald Trump presidency was the most corrupt of the nation’s first 45. Eighteen months into Trump’s presidency more than three dozen appointed government officials have resigned or been fired under suspicious clouds of corruption at one level or another. Trump assembled one of the wealthiest cabinets in the nation’s history, and each member has been accused of using their appointed position for personal gain. President Trump, his sons, his daughter, his son-in-law, and his wife have all used the Trump presidency for personal or family financial gain. 44 percent of the people in this country now believe that the Office of the Presidency is the most corrupt of all official offices in Washington, D.C.
States Also Embroiled in Corruption
Corruption is endemic at every level of official power in this nation. Two of America’s United States, Louisiana and Mississippi, are the butt of late night jokes concerning political corruption. The illustrious State of Texas earned itself a spot on the top 15 most corrupt states in America. The Lone Star State is notorious for its ability to conceal its official corruption.
Too many people in America tend to accept corruption as an integral component of the “cost of doing business” in this country. The Trump administration has taken full advantage of this entrenched public perception.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller was appointed to investigate the President of the United States, his 2016 presidential campaign, and criminal activity now connected to the White House. Seventeen indictments have been issued by his office, five guilty pleas entered, and an unknown number of plea agreement negotiations have likely been conducted by the Special Counsel. An unknown slew of other people have been immunized by the Special Counsel to tell what they know about illegal conclusion, public corruption, and criminal conspiracy involving the President, his family, his associates, and his organization.
Record Number of Congress Members Resign
Congress has not escaped the perils of public corruption. At least fourteen members of the current 115th Congress have resigned under the cloud of scandal—the most in modern history.
Most Corruption Goes Unpunished While Zero Tolerance for Immigrants
While most of this official corruption will go unpunished, the Trump administration has ramped up the federal prosecutions of individuals apprehended by the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) along the southwest border with Mexico. Between January and April of this year alone, the prosecutions for unlawful border crossings skyrocketed by 60 percent, increasing from 5,191 in January to 8,298 in April, according to TRAC.
As part of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy toward unlawful border crossings, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has instructed his regional U.S. Attorney Offices’ to escalate their prosecution in these cases.
The Attorney General, however, has given short shrift to the prosecution of white collar crime. Instead of zero tolerance as seen in minor, unlawful border crossing cases, white collar corruption crimes enjoy unprecedented deference by the AG.
In October 2017, The Crime Report said that “white-collar crime is a growth industry.” The Wells Fargo Bank scandal illustrates this point more than any other corporate crime in modern American history.
Last September Steve Hochstadt, writing in the LA Progressive, went so far as to call Wells Fargo “the biggest criminal enterprise in American history.”
Wells Fargo, Not MS-13, is Largest Criminal Enterprise
In August 2017, Harold Meyerson, editor of the American Prospect, opened an op-ed piece in the Los Angeles Times with these questions:
“What’s the biggest criminal enterprise in California? MS-13? The remnants or successors of the Crips and the Bloods? The Mexican Mafia? If we’re talking about the sheer volume of offenses, the answer is clear: Wells Fargo.”
While the Trump administration has targeted the MS-13 for special prosecutorial attention, no one with Wells Fargo Bank has gone to prison under this administration.
TRAC recently pointed to the answer when it reported that white collar crime convictions in 2017 decreased by 11 percent from 2016 and have decreased nearly 30 percent since 2012.
AG Sessions Not Prosecuting Corporate Crime
In other words, U.S. Attorneys under Jeff Sessions’s direction have responded to the growth industry of white collar crime with fewer prosecutions, and with lower prison sentences when there are rare convictions.
Wring in The American Interest last November, James S. Henry pointed out that in 2016 the U.S. financial services industry spent $1.44 billion on “Federal contributions and lobbying” with the U.S. Congress: “about $7,373 per Congressman per day.”
This kind of “pay to play” money has effectively compromised the federal prosecutorial system in white collar crime cases. As Henry explained:
“ … For example, as of 2017, the number of ‘white collar’ criminal prosecutions and convictions is at the lowest level in 22 years. Indeed, during Trump’s first year, so far, there have only been about 6,000 Federal white-collar criminal prosecutions of all-kinds—a 46 percent drop from their 1995 total (10,913), and just 6 percent of total Federal criminal prosecutions. Bank fraud cases will account for only 8 percent of all Federal white-collar crime prosecutions.”
But let us not be remiss on this issue. The preferential treatment white-collar crime has received is not confined to the Trump administration. Henry rightfully pointed out:
“It is important to note that this negative trend is not peculiar to the Trump Justice Department. Under the Obama administration, federal white-collar criminal prosecutions peaked in 2011 at
10,100, and then fell dramatically to 6,240 in 2016. Bank fraud cases accounted for less than 6-8 percent of all white-collar crime rates during this period—which, in turn, accounted for just 5-6 percent of all Obama Justice Department criminal prosecutions.”
These prosecution figures offer ample evidence that the financial services industry money has no preference for red or blue: it sees only green.
Yet on March 1, 2018, Deputy Attorney General Rob Rosenstein, in a keynote address before the American Bar Association’s 32nd Annual National Institute on White Collar crime in San Diego, pointed to the “many” white collar crime investigations underway by the U.S. Justice Department, according to the San Diego Union Tribune.
The newspaper underscored these remarks by Rosenstein:
“When it comes to cases against large corporation, Rosenstein said it is a balancing act, ensuring individual wrongdoers are held accountable while avoiding imposing penalties that disproportionately punish innocent corporate shareholders and employees.”
The Deputy Attorney General added that stiff corporate penalties are imposed when appropriate.
“We ask this question,” Rosenstein told the attendees, “which people of organizations provided the necessary goods or services to criminal enterprises—then we seek to hold them accountable for any criminal violations.”
Hochstadt described just a few of Wells Fargo’s crimes:
“Wells Fargo employees created 3.5 million fraudulent accounts in customers’ names without their knowledge. The bank signed up 500,000 customers for online bill payment services without their knowledge, some of which carried fees. It charged military personnel illegally high interests on loans and then seized vehicles from soldiers who fell behind on their payments. It charged half a million auto loan customers for insurance that they did not need. About 20,000 people could not pay these extra fees, went into default, and had their cars repossessed.”
Yet not one single person has spent a single day in jail or prison for any of this criminal activity committed by the nation’s second largest bank.
However, the arrest of law-abiding, non-criminal immigrants has doubled under the Trump administration. Government officials continuously parade through the nation’s 24-hour news cycle the false narrative that these immigrants are dangerous criminals while the Justice Department cannot find either the evidence or courage to indict one Wells Fargo official who has stolen money from millions of law-abiding Americans, many of whom had just returned from fighting this nation’s wars across the globe.
The fact is, there is given a new definition to official corruption and equal protection under the law: corruption is determined by wealth and equal protection under the law determined by skin color.