“There has never been, ever before, an administration that’s been so open and transparent.”; “I’m the most transparent President, probably in the history of this country”

Donald John Trump

President Trump has stated similar things at various times. Obviously, he either totally believes what he said or is unconcerned about misstating the facts, not a rare occurrence in this Administration. Here’s a very brief description of Trump’s historical relationship with the concept of transparency:

COVID-19
Trump has repeatedly stated the exact opposite of what was being told to him behind closed doors. For example, he says that China should have notified us about the Coronavirus “3 or 4 months sooner”. China released information about COVID-19 in December. Almost immediately, US health and intelligence organizations began telling the administration that the virus was a danger to our nation. Trump and GOP leadership ignored or minimized the danger until it became so obvious that the stock market crashed in March. Only then did Trump acknowledge the pandemic, and even then, he downplayed its length and severity, wavering on containment measures. He continues to hide negative information from the public, attacking reporters rather than answering questions in briefings.

Removing Five Inspector Generals
Inspector Generals (IGs) are the non-partisan internal watchdogs who make sure that Federal Government programs are administered legally and ethically ensuring that there’s no fraud or malfeasance. In the last few months, Trump has terminated or transferred the IGs for Intelligence, Defense, Health and Human Services, Transportation and the State Department simply for doing their jobs and accurately reporting abuse and waste in this administration. Removing them is the opposite of transparency.

 Taxes
When he ran for office, Trump stated that he would release his taxes after an audit was complete. It’s been nearly 4 years and we have yet to see his taxes. All other Presidents in the modern era have released their returns. What is Trump hiding? There are many possibilities, among them he: a. pays no federal taxes; b. has had shady dealings with Russian oligarchs, the Saudis and others; c. is not nearly as wealthy as he has stated; d. has paid countless people to refrain from revealing negative secrets about his personal life and financial dealings; e. has given very little to charity and/or f. has stopped many cases against him by paying off the litigants in back room deals.

Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs)
Per an article in the Atlantic, the Trump campaign’s nondisclosure agreement stated that the NDA applied to anything that “Mr. Trump insists remain private or confidential” and was applicable “during the term of your service” and “at all times thereafter.” And, all staff and volunteers were forced to sign.

Closed Settlements
Going back many decades, Trump has engaged in closed settlements. For example, the Trump organization entered into two such settlements with NYC regarding allegations of housing discrimination.

Open settlements
The Trump University lawsuit (and settlement) in 2016 was brought by people alleging “Trump University is more like an infomercial, selling non-accredited products, such as sales workshops, luring customers in with the name and reputation of its founder and Chairman, billionaire land mogul Donald J. Trump.” Trump settled.

Firing James Comey
Trump fired Comey directly due to the FBI probe of alleged collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. Doing so had the effect of curtailing the FBI’s efforts to discover the truth, the opposite of transparency. 

Ukraine and Russia
In reality versus “Trump world”, Trump blocked most people with direct knowledge of his statements and actions regarding the Ukraine and Russia from testifying to either Mueller or Congress. That includes the most relevant witness, himself.

Release of Documents
Trump’s policy has been to release classified documents which help him personally while not sharing others which might hurt him, including during the Mueller and House investigations. There can be no such thing as “selective” transparency.

Visitor Logs
Trump hides the names of those he meets with, as opposed to President Obama who really was transparent.

Attacks on the Free Press
No other administration in memory has been as negative as this President towards the free press. At every opportunity, he has lambasted largely accurate reporting for being biased. He has even criticized his favorite news network, Fox, when it has not been positive enough towards him.

Charges for Secret Service at Trump Properties
The Bush’s didn’t charge for the Secret Service at their properties. Trump says that he charges next to nothing. But, as usual with this President, that just isn’t true. In fact, the Secret Service is being charged up to $650 a night at Mar Lago. The total for security for the family almost certainly runs much more than the $120 million originally budgeted in 2017. Again, due to lack of transparency, we may never know.

Is this President really as transparent as he states?  Read the above and judge for yourself while you’re quarantined for COVID-19, a virus that up until recently Trump said was a minor inconvenience and someday would just vanish.

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Image credit: the feature caricature of Donald John Trump with his hand over where his tiny heart is supposed to be is a composite image from images created by DonkeyHotey (Flickr/Creative Commons).

Jack Bernard

Jack Bernard

Jack A Bernard is a retired SVP with a national healthcare corporation. He was Chair of the Jasper County, Ga Board of Commissioners and Republican Party. He was also on the Board of Health for Jasper County and is currently on the Fayette County BOH. Bernard has over 100 columns published annually, primarily in the South.