The Most Transparent Presidency Ever

A couple of weeks ago, an acquaintance of mine claimed that the Trump administration was “the most transparent in [her] lifetime.”  This bounces around in my head with some frequency, especially when I see stories like the following (via NBC):  After Pledging to Donate Salary, Trump Declines to Release Proof.

President Donald Trump pledged to forego a presidential salary, but as his second payday approaches, the White House is declining to say if the president has donated any of his earnings yet.

During the campaign, Trump promised he would take “no salary” if elected — a pledge he reiterated after he won.

“I’m not going to the take the salary,” he told 60 Minutes” in November.


Salary donations are not the only area where Trump’s pledges to donate revenue are lacking transparency.

During the transition, Trump also unveiled a plan to “donate all profits from foreign governments’ patronage of his hotels and similar businesses” to the Treasury Department. The plan was released by Trump’s private law firm, Morgan Lewis, but no system or accounting has been released for how or when such donations will be processed or disclosed.

This is the opposite of transparent.  Of course, my guess is that that is not what my acquaintance thinks qualifies as “transparent” (which usually means openness about how an administration functions, especially when it comes to financial or other ethical issues). Rather, she probably falls into the “he says what is one his mind” camp (setting aside that what he says often is still far from transparent, e.g., last week’s claims about wiretaps).  It in one of those areas in which I am having a really hard time wrapping my head around the blind support that Trump receives from so many.

Understand:  I really don’t care what Trump does with his salary.  But, goodness, this speaks to basic honesty, ethics, and competency.  If it isn’t being donated, he is violating a simple promise.  If it is being done, but the information is not getting out that is utter incompetence, as it is giving up on an easy route to score very simple PR points.


FILED UNDER: The Presidency, US Politics, , , , ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. DrDaveT says:

    Trump is easily the most transparent president ever — you can see right through him. Especially above the neck, if you’re looking from the side.

  2. Mr. Bluster says:

    transparency: openness, accountability, straightforwardness, candor.

    White House Cancels Open Press Events By Trump
    White House deputy press secretary Stephanie Grisham said the cancellations “were game time decisions” made by her.
    “I determined the rooms were too full to accommodate press and equipment,”

    The slow-rising central horror of “Watergate” is not that it might grind down to the reluctant impeachment of a vengeful thug of a president whose entire political career has been a monument to the same kind of cheap shots and treachery he finally got nailed for, but that we might somehow fail to learn something from it.
    Hunter S. Thompson

  3. Eric Florack says:

    Maybe the problem is NBC?

  4. CSK says:

    Again, Steven, you’re judging Trump by standards that don’t apply to him. We all do it, and that’s perfectly understandable.

    This is Trump:

    1. He lies as reflexively as he breathes, all the time, about anything, as long as he thinks it makes him look good.

    2. H forgets what he says from one minute to the next.

    3. He dwells within his own self-created reality.

  5. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    Oh yeah??!! Well how transparent was Obummer? He said he was going to be transparent an brought opaqueness to the highest levels ever seen! And at least Trump isn’t Shillary! How transparent do you think having the Clinton Crime Family in would have been!!?? She’d have installed a Drive-up Clinton Foundation Graft window at the Rose Garden! MAGA!

    (The usual trolls don’t seem to be showing up any more, so I thought I’d fill in for them today.)

  6. CSK says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’nint cracker:

    It’s early. Give ’em time.

  7. Joe says:

    @CSK: I don’t disagree with your assessment of Trump’s lying, but there is some bizarre disconnect between what he says and what he does. “Lyinng” makes it sound planned and intentional but it seems so much more unrelated and random. I go back to my trope from some other thread. What he says is just kind of meaningless. It sheds no light, positive or negative, on what he does. It is truly the sound and the fury signifying nothing.

  8. al-Alameda says:

    Understand: I really don’t care what Trump does with his salary. But, goodness, this speaks to basic honesty, ethics, and competency. If it isn’t being donated, he is violating a simple promise. If it is being done, but the information is not getting out that is utter incompetence, as it is giving up on an easy route to score very simple PR points.

    the election of Donald Trump, short of electing a guy like Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, is the logical conclusion of choosing to elect a person despite all known and very obvious character and personality flaws.

    Republican voters were very happy, gleeful, to have Trump emasculate every one of their prominent and second rate candidates, as well as and insult and mock variously: female news people, disabled people, the family of a deceased war hero, and on and on. He even bragged about groping women because he was famous and he could do as he pleased. He showed his supporters (aka misunderstood white working people) that he was not “P.C.” that he could say things that many of them wanted to say but were afraid to.

    At this point, in the aftermath of electing a malevolent narcissist like Trump, I think it’s safe to say that there is no such thing as an enduring “wisdom of The People.” Sometimes The People collectively have wisdom, sometimes The People are out-to-lunch.

  9. CSK says:


    I see your point, but “lying” seems to be the only word for it. Trump has no sense of objective reality–he creates his own, and it may change from moment to moment, and what comes out of his mouth reflects that.

    (Certainly he lies consciously when he brags about his sexual prowess and financial worth.)

    This is why I keep saying that all of our attempts to analyze him according to standard norms of behavior (even the standards by which we judge most malevolent lying autocrats) fall short, because he’s outside those norms.

    We keep looking for a rational pattern in what is, by definition, fraught with irrationality.

  10. rachel says:

    Donald Trump is as transparent as the Emperor’s new clothes. It’s too bad he keeps showing the entire world his ass.

  11. MarkedMan says:

    RepubliFact: Something that comes out of Republican’s mouths. Should not be confused with an actual fact.

    RepubliTruth: What Republicans decide is the truth. Caution, may change from minute to minute.

  12. Sherparick says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’nint cracker: Thanks, but this Administration killed irony and satire months ago.

    “The Onion” or Trump – can you tell the real from the fake (and what if the real are crazier than the fake????)

  13. Mr. Bluster says:


  14. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @Sherparick: 6/10, not terrible. Thanks, that was fun.

  15. CSK says:


    10/10. I know my Trump.

  16. Dazedandconfused says:

    Baghdad Bob…transparent or opaque??