With the arrival of Donald Trump imminent, it is only appropriate that we take a look at the 10 most corrupt US Presidents in history. The US Presidency is the most powerful office in the entire world; therefore, you would expect it to be held by someone with the highest moral values, unparalleled intelligence, and excellent personality. Unfortunately, that is how things would work if we lived in a dream world; the reality is quite different indeed.
While the US has had some excellent presidents, it has also had its fair share of corrupt or simply incompetent presidents. In fact, some of them have been so incompetent that the people thought only corruption could explain their actions rather than a lack of intelligence, a trend which I fear is set to continue with Donald Trump about to take office.
Many people believe that Trump is a much better choice than outgoing President Barack Obama. While Obama had his faults, namely his Middle East policies which have bloodied what would otherwise have been a great legacy, I cannot stress how much better it would be if Obama had four more years in charge instead of Trump.
In fact, this presidential race has been an eye opener not just for Americans but the entire world. The two candidates who were running for the biggest office in the world were so universally disliked, it seems likely that contempt for Hillary Clinton was more decisive in Trump’s victory rather than the qualities of Trump. After all, she made millions delivering speeches to Wall Street firms, hired a top donor to the Clinton Foundation at a very sensitive position when she was Secretary of State, kept classified emails on a personal unsecured server and perhaps most importantly, she reduced security in Libya, which led to the death of four Americans, including the US Ambassador in Benghazi. Her husband is guilty of corruption as well, which is why he makes the list of 11 most corrupt US Presidents in history.
Now think about how bad Trump is when I say that even after all the aforementioned issues, Trump is still an infinitely worse choice than Hillary. This businessman may be worth billions, but that is due to morally ambiguous or outright deceit rather than savvy business acumen. In fact, Trump’s businesses have filed for bankruptcy an incredible six times. He established a university, creatively named Trump University, which was the defendant in multiple class action suits, which saw Trump settling for $25 million. We all know about his horrific campaign promises as well, from claiming that Mexico sends rapists to the US and promising to build a wall at the border, to suggesting that he would ban the arrival of Muslims in the country.
On the other hand, the presidents on this list could give Trump a run for his money. They have engaged in activities damaging to the country while profitable for them and their friends and had tenures the country would sooner forget. Believe it or not, despite their corrupt deeds some of them are also dubbed as the Most Successful Presidents of all Time. We have ranked them according to how often they would appear on the internet in articles discussing the most corrupt US Presidents, while also comparing their crimes. Let’s enjoy the ride taking us to the very worst America has chosen in its history! To the most corrupt US Presidents in history.
10. Ulysses S. Grant
There is no denying that Grant was a war hero, but he was certainly not fit to become the president of the country, a fact he himself acknowledged. He was mainly elected due to his overwhelming popularity after the led the North to victory against the South. During his tenure, land and money grants were provided to railroad companies, while it was discovered that some members of the Congress had been bribed to act in favor of the Union Pacific Railroad. While it looks like Grant himself did not profit off these activities, he oversaw one of the most corrupt administrations in the country’s history. I believe it unlikely that he was simply unaware of everything, and find it more believable that he simply let it happen rather than stop it, which definitely indicates corruption and weakness on his part.
9. Lyndon Johnson
Some people have fond memories of this president, mainly due to his involvement in Medicaid and fighting for civil rights, both noble pursuits. However, Johnson has always had a murky history regarding ethics, with even his biographer alleging that he actually fixed the election which earned him a place in the US Senate. The biographer described how he overcame a 20,000 vote deficit and garnered a victory with an incredible 47 votes.
While in Senate, he used his powers for personal gains rather than serving the country and managed to get approval which allowed his wife to purchase television and radio stations. He then used his power to expand their reach so that the revenues and profits could increase accordingly. These decisions netted Johnson millions and ultimately made him a rich man.
8. Harry Truman
You may be surprised to find out that Truman has made this list of most corrupt US Presidents in history, mainly because of his extensive contributions to the country such as fighting for civil rights, approving the dropping of the atomic bombs in order to end the war and potentially save millions of lives, and beginning an internationalist policy rather than the isolationist one the US had been following. However, it is his ascent to the presidency that has led to his placement on this list. He was backed by notorious corrupt politician Tom Pendergast, who backed Truman through means which would have been decried today, such as the bribing of officials.
7. Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson was the pioneer of rewarding support with positions in high places. If you think Trump made bad choices for his cabinet, Jackson did the same only well over a century ago. He rewarded his loyalists with some of the top positions, which they were not qualified for, resulting in inefficiencies and corruptions, which in turn resulted in a loss of millions of dollars.
6. John F. Kennedy
Next on the list of most corrupt US Presidents in history is Kennedy that is one of the highest rated Presidents of all time, and I am sure many will be shocked by the fact that I have included him in the list of 11 most corrupt US Presidents in history. However, as books based on him have detailed, he was a selfish man who nearly caused nuclear warfare while not caring at all about his family, indulging in extra-marital affairs which could have jeopardized the country’s secrets. Furthermore, there are allegations that he had ties to the mob bosses in the US and would not have won the presidency had he not obtained their support.
5. Bill Clinton
While Hillary’s corruption has been laid bare in the opening of this article, her husband Bill Clinton was not far behind in this respect. Let’s put aside the affairs he had while in office, such as the infamous Monica Lewinsky scandal. He, along with Hillary, used the IRS to exact revenge on the people who had been against his administration, with people such as Bill O’Reilly being audited several times during his presidency. The couple further engaged in vandalism and theft as they tried to transport White House property to their own home when they had to leave while damaging significant property as well. They also used the FBI to infringe on their opponents’ rights by illegally obtaining their personal files.
4. George W. Bush
Net in line on our list of most corrupt US Presidents in history is Bush that will live on in infamy as the President who became President after one of the tightest elections in US history. He was only successful because his brother purged nearly 60,000 people from the voter poll, who were incredibly likely to vote for Al Gore. Bush also redacted evidence which showed Saudi Arabia’s link to the 9/11 attacks while there are widespread allegations that he attacked Iraq, not to go against Saddam Hussein but instead, for oil.
3. Warren Harding
While Harding and his policies were extremely popular during his Presidency, his legend and reputation were tarnished when scandals that occurred during his term were made public, in addition to his affairs. Some of his cabinet members were arrested on various illegal activities while he appointed people who were his friends in high positions. He even allowed Charles L Forbe, director of the Veterans Bureau, to leave the country, even after knowing about his corrupt schemes. Let’ se the top two on the list of most corrupt US Presidents in history
2. Ronald Reagan
While I consider him to be one of the best US Presidents, mainly due to his economic policies, there is little doubt that he was morally ambiguous, to say the least. Scandals were common during his term, of which the most damaging was the Iran-Contra scandal, where arms were sold to Iran despite an arms embargo. While Reagan initially denied the charge, he later admitted to it in front of everyone, thereby exposing just one of his many lies. This led to the indictment of 16 people, which included Reagan’s former Secretary of State.
1. Richard Nixon
I am sure most of you realized that Nixon would top the list of the most corrupt US Presidents in history. He is the only President who has resigned, and was embroiled in the Watergate scandal, which was so huge that any subsequent scandals that take place are given the suffix “-gate.” The Watergate scandal saw many illegal activities conducted by Nixon and his administration such as the bugging of offices of opponents and people they deemed suspicious. Furthermore, recent news reports revealed that Nixon actually tried to damage the peace talks Lyndon Johnson held with South Vietnam, but the impact of his involvement is not reasonably certain.