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Federal actions against corporations continue to drop in Trump’s second year, despite his ‘tough on crime’ rhetoric

MoneyUnder President Donald Trump, the “tough on crime” president, corporate enforcement actions at the U.S. Department of Justice fell for the second year in a row, according to a Public Citizen report.

In Trump’s second year, the DOJ completed just 227 cases against corporate offenders, 14 fewer than in 2017, and down heavily from 308 in President Barack Obama’s final year in office.

While the Trump DOJ’s financial penalties did increase to $15.7 billion in 2018 from $4.9 billion, the 2018 level is below Obama-era penalties. In addition, the report states that 62 percent of the 2018 total is attributable to just four cases against big banks – Royal Bank of Scotland, Wells Fargo, Barclays, and HSBC – which were initiated by the Obama administration for financial crisis-era allegations.

The combined penalty totals for Trump’s first two years – $20.6 billion – are 80 percent lower than Obama’s last two years, $101.2 billion.

“The sustained decline in corporate enforcement is the predictable outcome of corporate leniency policies the Trump administration has embraced – even while pursuing ‘zero tolerance’ enforcement toward border crossings and street crime,” said Rick Claypool, a Public Citizen research director. “This is two-tiered justice at its worst.”

The analysis follows a July 2018 Public Citizen report that found DOJ penalties for corporate violations plummeted by 90 percent during Trump’s first year in office, and that corporate enforcement declined significantly at nearly all federal agencies under Trump appointees.


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