Fill the swamp: Trump rescinds lobbying ban for his staff at 11th hour


Trump had banned his staff from lobbying for five years after leaving his White House in an effort to 'drain the swamp.'

Donald Trump ran for office in 2016 by promising to "drain the swamp," a reference to corruption in the federal government.

However, just hours before his tenure ended, in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, Trump rescinded the five-year lobbying ban he had his aides sign when they joined his administration — a move that will allow ex-officials to lobby in the very industries they worked to regulate while in the federal government.

Trump instituted the lobby ban on Jan. 28, 2017 — just eight days into his tenure. He billed the ban as a historic effort to root out corruption in the government, joking that the ban was so tough many of his aides would not be able to find work in government after leaving his administration.

"Most of the people standing behind me will not be able to go to work for our wonderful country," Trump said while signing the lobby ban in the Oval Office.

Trump even touted the ban in a speech to a joint session of Congress days after putting it into place.

"We have begun to drain the swamp of government corruption by imposing a five-year ban on lobbying by executive branch officials and a lifetime ban — thank you — and a lifetime ban on becoming lobbyists for a foreign government," Trump said.

But at 1 a.m. on the day he is set to leave the White House, Trump revoked it, leading to a barrage of criticism.

"President Trump's Ethics Executive Order was a sham and formally releasing former officials from their lobbying ban is a final reminder that 'the swamp' is ok if it's Trump's swamp," Austin Evers, the executive director of American Oversight, a nonpartisan government watchdog group, tweeted. "It will be on corporate America to ensure their option to lobby is worthless. Don't hire them."

This is not the first time Trump has reneged on his pledge to fight corruption.

Trump refused to separate himself from his private business while in office, leading to conflict of interest accusations.

He was also impeached in 2019 for corruptly using the office of the presidency to try to force a foreign country to aid in his reelection effort.

And recently, Trump issued corrupt pardons to those who have remained loyal to him, like Paul Manafort and Roger Stone — despite the fact that neither admitted to the crimes they were convicted of, which is the traditional qualification for receiving pardons.

Trump also issued an 11th-hour pardon for Steve Bannon early Wednesday morning, Trump's former campaign CEO who was charged with defrauding Trump's own supporters who donated money for a private effort to build the border wall between the United States and Mexico.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.