Analysis

Trump Said Clinton Was Corrupt, but Don’t Expect Him to Fight Graft

The United States needs huge reforms to battle corruption, but the president-elect doesn’t have any plans on the issue, Israeli experts say.

his June 7, 1995, file photo shows real estate magnate Donald Trump posing for photos above the floor of the New York Stock Exchange after taking his flagship Trump Plaza Casino public in New York City.
Kathy Willens / AP

Throughout the U.S. presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton was hampered by her clear identification with Wall Street and the wealthy. Donald Trump, as a candidate from outside the political establishment, managed to dodge this connection, even though he knew it from the other side as a businessman who made donations to politicians.

During the campaign, alongside other scandals, it was discovered that Trump had donated a tidy sum to a state attorney general who was due to decide on a matter involving Trump. At the start of his campaign, Trump declared that he did not intend to accept donations from the rich, but in May he agreed to accept $100 million from casino magnate Sheldon Adelson (who according to The New York Times cut that back to $5 million).

The donation was sent to super PACs huge, controversial organizations that raise funds for candidates. These groups act with little oversight and are legal on the condition that their operations aren’t coordinated with the candidate.

“There’s no doubt that this election is a screeching loss for Wall Street,” says Dr. Eli Cook, a University of Haifa expert on the history of American capitalism. “True, Trump didn’t speak out much against Wall Street in the campaign, but Wall Street is feeling threatened because it doesn’t like betting on a horse that lost. Still, I think Trump will easily find his connection to the Republican Party, and therefore some of the regulations Obama passed will be repealed.”

In all, Cook, says, “I don’t expect a worsening of the current state of relations between big money and government in American politics.”

According to Dr. Doron Navot, a researcher on corruption at the University of Haifa, in many senses Trump is much more corrupt than Clinton, even if it was Trump who assailed Clinton for alleged corruption during the campaign.

Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson testifies at Clark County Justice Center on Tuesday, April 28, 2015, in Las Vegas.
AP

“His career as a businessman is rife with situations of bribes and connections with politicians. Trump told his voters: ‘I was on the other side, I bought politicians, and because I was there I’ll know how to deal with this.'”

Like Cook, Navot doesn’t expect a significant change regarding relations between government and big money.

“In this area, Trump surprised everyone if only because of his anti-establishment message against the super wealthy. But he’s a populist leader who says he’ll fight corruption and doesn’t say how,” Navot says.

“The problem of corruption in the United States is something deep. Huge reforms need to be made, and this man doesn’t have plans. At this stage it’s hard to say what he’ll do, though it should be noted that his first speech was measured and dignified.”