Trump allows former aides to immediately start with lobbying
WASHINGTON (US) – In one of his last few duties as president, Donald Trump on Wednesday signed a directive permitting his staff to immediately begin lobbying. With this, Trump has made a U turn from his own 2017 executive order intended at preventing his aides from using their influence for personal gain.
The earlier restrictions, aimed at fulfilling a campaign promise to “drain the swamp,” were critical of the kind of insider culture the Republican Trump had recurrently spoken against.
In an executive order released overnight, hours before he was likely to leave office, Trump pulled down the ethics order that had said his appointees would not be allowed to lobby their own agency for five years after leaving, and would not lobby any government appointee for two years. It also had demanded a lifetime ban on continuing work on behalf of foreign governments or foreign political parties.
Noah Bookbinder, executive director of the nonprofit Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics, said in a statement, “The man who pledged to drain the swamp took a giant step to fill it. You don’t do things you’re proud of last-minute in the middle of the night when you hope no one is watching.”
Biden’s transition team said in a statement that he will order his appointees to sign an ethics pledge and enforce related ethics rules “to ensure that executive branch employees act in the interest of the American people and not for personal gain”.
Trump, a real estate developer and former reality television star, never formally parted ways from his business interests while in office, despite him saying that he had transferred day-to-day control of the same over his two eldest sons. The arrangement, which according to ethicists did not stop conflicts of interest, put forth legal challenges.