News Release

Retrospective Memos on Trump Presidency


The Revolving Door Project (RDP) released a set of “retrospective memos” this week which detail the corruption and mismanagement of executive agencies during Trump’s presidency. The memos focus on disaster management, environmental protections, financial regulation, housing, immigration, labor, education, and transportation. 

    Iwayemi is Research Director of the Governance team at the Revolving Door Project

In a statement from RDP, Iwayemi said: “The Trump administration was utterly indifferent to the public interest while prioritizing the wealth of the Trump family and their richest enablers”––as evidenced in the administration’s “disgraceful response to hurricanes Irma and Maria, the destructive mismanagement of the Covid-19 pandemic, the repeal of payday lending consumer protections, the authorization of wage theft from tipped workers, and the protection of disreputable corporate polluters and for-profit educational institutions.”

Iwayemi told the Institute for Public Accuracy: RDP has been “trying to get people to center the conversation around the presidential election on actual administration. Many times, the media falls into a trap where they opt for narrating [elections] as personality contests, as professional wrestling––rather than looking at what the record was and how [candidates] plan to achieve their agendas… It’s clearly important to cover Trump’s agenda going into 2025, and to cover Project 2025 and the right-wing’s plan to dismantle democracy. But that needs to be paired with coverage of how Trump and his appointees carried out their duties” during his term.

Iwayemi urges the public to focus on how presidents have “directed the executive branch. Under Trump and his band of cronies, they treated the federal government as personal fief or as a place to institutionalize corporate interests.” RDP’s memos mention multiple examples of Trump personnel who “chartered private jets or used federal funds to pay for travel from Washington to their home states… They’re taking their cues from Trump, who is spectacularly corrupt.

“But we don’t want to find ourselves trapped in an aesthetic view of corruption. People don’t always realize how [political] corruption materially impacts their lives. It’s not just about how politicians benefit themselves––it’s also about how the corrupt mindset pushes them toward policies that allow corporations to easily exploit the public. It’s not just personal corruption. When you institutionalize [corruption] in the federal government, it serves to benefit corporate America and leaves everyday Americans holding the bag.”

Iwayemi emphasized some of the key points from RDP’s memos, including the Trump administration’s environmental rollbacks, its mismanagement of federal disaster response, and its hostility toward labor. 

“Over four years,” notes the RDP memo on the environment, “the Trump administration rolled back over 100 environmental safeguards. One report in the Lancet estimated that the rollback of environmental and workplace safety regulations killed 22,000 people in 2019 alone. After 47 years on the decline, air pollution in heavily industrialized states increased, causing more premature births, premature deaths, and chronic health conditions. Trump’s rollback of Obama’s Clean Power Plan was estimated to cause an additional 1,400 premature deaths per year, as well as sickening tens of thousands.” Iwayemi suggests that more people need to “make the link between environmental policy and law and public health.”  

Iwayemi also emphasized Trump’s mismanagement of disaster response. “There’s an idea that Trump is racist. That may be fair but [we] need to emphasize how racism played out in his public policy-making and how incompetent his administration was. They were asleep at the wheel. Trump prioritized political expediency over everything else; for anything that could be spun to make him or his administration look bad, there was an attempt to push it under the rug. [RDP] compared the federal responses to [hurricanes in] Puerto Rico and in Houston. It took six days to deploy helicopters to Houston, but a few weeks to Puerto Rico.” Trump also withheld full access to recovery funds to Puerto Rico until three years after Hurricanes Maria and Irma hit the island.

Trump recently proposed exempting tipped wages from federal taxes. “The benefit isn’t real,” said Iwayemi. That proposal will have a “minimal effect on the public.” During his administration, Trump’s Department of Labor “introduced a rule that allowed restaurant owners to control allocation of tip pools. That was authorized wage theft.”