Elizabeth Warren promises to tackle the Trump administration’s ‘corruption and incompetence’ on day one if elected

Democratic presidential candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren.
Democratic presidential candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren.Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

If elected president, Senator Elizabeth Warren on Tuesday promised to take “aggressive steps” to erase the Trump administration’s influence on the federal government her first day in office.

Warren’s plan details how she would clean out what she called “the corruption that has infected the government” by asking all political appointees to resign and by directing the Justice Department to appoint an independent task force to investigate corruption that took place during the Trump administration. She warned that President Trump was unlikely to make the transition to a Democratic administration smooth, saying “his vindictive actions as president suggest that he is likely to do everything he can to undermine the next president."


“We cannot assume that everything will be fine once Donald Trump leaves office,” she said.

Warren issued the plan, which builds off other anti-corruption proposals she has put at the center of her campaign, as Trump’s impeachment trial for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress was set to begin Tuesday in the Senate.

Warren said removing Trump donors and political allies from high-ranking positions and replacing them with “capable officials committed to putting the public interest first” would be one of her top priorities. She said she would ask all political appointees, including US Attorneys, to resign on her first day in office as long as doing so wouldn’t endanger national security.

Her proposed Justice Department task force would investigate Trump administration officials for potential violations of federal bribery and insider trading laws. Warren also said she won’t hesitate to use her for-cause removal authority for heads of independent agencies who neglect their duties or engage in malfeasance while in office.

Warren is also promising to announce her Cabinet choices by Dec. 1, 2020, and top nominations by Dec. 15 in order to fully staff the White House by Inauguration day on Jan. 20, 2021.


“Unlike previous transitions, we will not be able to assume good faith cooperation on the part of the outgoing administration...” she said. “There will be no time to lose in putting teams in place to address the crises this administration has brought on our country — and to take action on the extraordinary challenges that the American people face.”

Former President Barack Obama holds the record for the most nominations ready for confirmation on the first day of a presidency at 35, but Warren said Tuesday she plans to beat that.

Warren said she would ensure her White House is corruption-free by ending the “revolving door” between corporations and the government and by building an administration that “reflects the experiences of diversity of our country.”

In 2018, Warren introduced anti-corruption legislation aimed at ridding policymaking from the “corrupting influence of money.” She said Tuesday her first priority as president would be to pass that legislation.

Even beyond legislation, Warren said she will take steps in her own administration to root out corruption by not hiring any current lobbyists. If a job candidate has served as a corporate lobbyist in the past, Warren said she will require a six-year “cooling off period." Any waivers or exceptions to this rule will be made public, she said.

Additionally, a Warren administration wouldn’t hire employees of for-profit federal contractors unless Warren personally makes an exception “in the national interest.” She also said she would retroactively end corrupt federal contracting agreements from the Trump administration.


Warren vowed to not hire executives from companies that have broken federal law or are under investigation within six years. She said she would also require administration officials to divest from any investments that federal ethics officials deem able to be influenced by the employee’s agency.

Past presidents have issued ethics pledges at the outset, but haven’t always been able to live up to their promises. Warren said her plan is different because it leaves less room for loopholes by expanding the definition of “lobbyist” to include anyone who is hired to influence government and by extending these rules to all executive branch employees, not just political appointees.

The new plan also outlines Warren’s goals for “a government that reflects the energy and diversity of America," including a Secretary of Labor who has been a labor leader and a Secretary of Agriculture who has a “demonstrated commitment to advocating for Black farmers.”

Warren also pledged to fill at least half of her Cabinet with women and non-binary people whose gender identity is not strictly male or female. She is pledging LGBTQ+ representation across all levels of government and an effort to diversify recruitment for government jobs by targeting Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges and Universities and Hispanic Serving Institutions.