With his embrace of corporate figures and ultrawealthy donors, Trump has been accused of “draining the swamp” incorrectly in Washington.
A former ethics chief has a more literal objection.
Walter Shaub, the head of the Office of Government Ethics until he resigned last month because of the Trump administration’s myriad-and-growing ethical challenges made his job impossible, spoke up on Monday after Trump tweeted that he was changing his refrain from “Drain the swamp” to “Drain the sewer.”
“Drain the Swamp should be changed to Drain the Sewer—it’s actually much worse than anyone ever thought, and it begins with the Fake News!” the president tweeted.
Drain the Swamp should be changed to Drain the Sewer – it’s actually much worse than anyone ever thought, and it begins with the Fake News!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 24, 2017
Shaub tweeted back: “Can someone tell POTUS ‘drain the swamp’ refers to ethics problems not to folks who disagree with him?”
“Not sure he knows he’s using it wrong,” he added.
Shaub continued his evaluation of the tweet. In terms of the president’s assertion that things were “actually much worse than anyone ever thought,” Shaub replied,“.@realDonaldTrump it is, indeed sir, much worse now but I can assure you that’s not the place where it begins. Tone from the top matters.”
This is the second phrase whose meaning Trump has changed from its original definition to mean someone or something that disagrees with him. “Fake news” was originally a non-partisan description of factually inaccurate or wholly false stories that were shared over media during the 2016 campaign. The linguistic snake — which may or may not reside in the Washington swamp — has begin to eat its tail, as cries of “fake news” are themselves inaccurate or totally false.
These are some of the things the president has declared to be “fake news” in the last two weeks: the Washington Post; CNN; the assertion that the president does not have complete pardon power; entities that dispatched “tremendous abuse” on Sean Spicer; stories about his undisclosed meeting with Vladimir Putin at the G20; an entity that is “DESTROYING DEMOCRACY in our country,” and something that would call for Chelsea Clinton to become president if she held her mother’s seat during the G20.