During his presidential campaign, Donald Trump promised that he would “drain the swamp” if he was elected – that he would remove all the lobbyists, Wall Street elites, and corporate lackeys from Washington D.C., and run an ethically clean White House. Since his victory, however, Trump has done the exact opposite. He’s packed his Cabinet with wealthy Wall Street tycoons, filled his transition team with lobbyists, and allowed corporations to direct his economic policy.
This week, Donald Trump dug the swamp even deeper, with his announcement that he has picked retired general James Mattis to be his Secretary of Defense. There have been strong concerns about the psychological stability of Mattis, who is prone to outbursts declaring how much “fun” it is to kill people.
Equally as disturbing are the considerable ethical conflicts of interest that Mattis would bring to the Pentagon. Although Mattis is retired as a Marine Corps general, he has been quite busy making huge amounts of money for himself by selling out his contacts in the military as a member of corporate boards related to the defense industry.
Mattis is one of the directors of General Dynamics, a corporate military contractor and international weapons merchant. General Dynamics will have considerable business with the Department of Defense over the next 4 years. If Mattis is confirmed as Secretary of Defense, he will be in a position to direct huge amounts of money into the accounts of General Dynamics. Richard W. Painter, former chief ethics counsel to Republican President George W. Bush, has observed the concern with obvious unease “General Dynamics could try to use this relationships to get access into the Pentagon,” Painter says.
A propensity for poor ethical judgment has been one of the defining characteristics of the post-military career Mattis has designed for himself. For example, Mattis is one of the directors of Theranos, a tech company that defrauded investors and clients by claiming to have a high tech blood testing system, while secretly referring blood testing samples to traditional laboratories while skimming profits off the top.
Mattis urged the U.S. Army to invest in fake Theranos technology in 2012, just months before he retired from the military and joined the Theranos Board of Directors.
Now, thanks to Donald Trump, James Mattis is preparing to walk through the revolving door of corruption in Washington D.C. once again, returning to the Pentagon while continuing to serve the powerful corporations who have employed him.
With every trip Mattis takes through that revolving door, the swamp of corruption in Washington D.C. expands. Far from confronting this unethical system, Donald Trump seems intent on spreading its slime until every marble monument in our nation’s capital is covered with goop.