Alex Howard
4 min readOct 12, 2020

Donald J. Trump is the most corrupt President in American history, presiding over the most corrupt administration in over two centuries.

Source: September 2020 CREW report on the President’s Conflicts of Interest

He was impeached over abusing his official power for personal gain and obstructing Congress’ investigation. He obstructed the Justice Department’s investigation of his campaign. He has taken emoluments in violation of the Constitution after his election and inauguration, monetizing access and influence in his presidency through his businesses and carrying foreign entanglements into the highest office in our union, from China to Turkey to Saudi Arabia and (most famously) Russia.

Congress tolerated his emolumental corruption under both Speaker Ryan, Speaker Pelosi, and (most of all) Senator McConnell, who looked the other way at brazen corruption, in the open, implicating other nations and our most powerful corporations, while the special counsel failed Americans by not “following the money.”

This is one reason I have more gray hair today: I was among the good government advocates in DC that called Congressional, public and media attention to the risk of presidential corruption in 2016. I have been grieving at the deepening stink of it in Washington ever since.

Watchdogs, academics, teachers, politicians and (most all, today) journalists should call the president’s receipt of money from foreign nations, corporations, and political parties in violation of the anti-corruption clauses of the Constitution what it is: CORRUPTION.

The New York Times published a masterful investigation of Trump’s emolumental corruption on Sunday, based upon its analysis of his tax returns, public records, and social media.

It’s extraordinary. It’s exactly the kind of investigation into Trump’s conflicts of interest that I tried to stimulate, commission & support at the Sunlight Foundation, made possible because obtained Times got his taxes, have some of the best researchers & reporters on the planet, and & the resources to assign them to enterprise journalism for years. (In fact, I emailed one of the Times reporters open data of the entities we’d extracted in early 2017, as a spreadsheet. I hope it was helpful in forming a backbone for the investigation.)

The Times has published several of the most important pieces of journalism about this presidency this fall, documenting unprecedented corruption in the White House, chronic losses, tax fraud, and the foreign entanglements and looming debts of the President. It is increasingly clear that this toxic combination of corruption and leverage explains the President’s behavior towards Russia – and other nations.

I am so grateful to everyone involved for arming Americans with knowledge that the most powerful man in the world sought to deny us, but the Times editorial leadership is underplaying what they’ve found.

Headlines still matter. This Sunday’s front page story was just a column:

For Favors
In A Swamp
Trump Built

Online, it’s: “Trump’s Swamp: Taxes Trace Payments to Properties by Those Who Got Ahead

I share some of Alberto Cairo’s frustration. I fear Americans have become numbed by “a flood of shit,” misled by disinformation from political elites amplified by partisan media.

The rhetoric of good government has been co-opted and debased, muddying public consciousness with the sense that “everybody does it” in Washington, when the facts show such presidential corruption is unprecedented.

As a result, this investigation documenting it will not get the attention and amplification it deserves, penetrating into our national consciousness and understanding in a way that drives impact.

Our papers of record need to cut through partisanship, polarization, and lies to deny Americans the shared facts necessary for collective action, not engage in continued false equivalence, amplify disinformation, or fail to “seek truth and report it” by not naming corruption when we can all see it.

Key takeaways” are good, but if the hard news is that Trumpbuilt a system of direct presidential influence-peddling unrivaled in modern American politics,” call what it is: corruption.

Donald J. Trump is the most corrupt President in American history. So report it, “without fear or favor.”



Alex Howard

Dad, writer, citizen, chef, cyclist, skeptical optimist, cereal dilettante. Open government advocate at