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Trump revokes executive order that promised to 'drain the swamp' just hours before leaving office


'... nothing more than a prop in his demagogic play-acting before the American people'

Ron Sachs - Pool/Getty Images

One of President Donald Trump's central promises during his campaign for the presidency in 2016 was that he would "drain the swamp," his phrase for ridding Washington, D.C., of career bureaucrats who reap significant profits from their government work by entering the lobbying world.

Just one week after taking office, Trump delivered on that promise, issuing an executive order that required executive appointees to sign an agreement that said, in part:

  • "I will not, within 5 years after the termination of my employment as an appointee in any executive agency in which I am appointed to serve, engage in lobbying activities with respect to that agency."
  • " I will not accept gifts from registered lobbyists or lobbying organizations for the duration of my service as an appointee."
  • "I will not, at any time after the termination of my employment in the United States Government, engage in any activity on behalf of any foreign government or foreign political party which, were it undertaken on January 20, 2017, would require me to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938, as amended."

However, late Tuesday night, just hours before Trump was set to depart Washington, D.C., ahead of Joe Biden's inauguration, Trump issued a new executive order rescinding the his order that established lobbying parameters on executive appointees.

What are the details?

Trump's revocation of his executive order was one of the last executive actions of his presidency and now allows his executive appointees to profit from their government work by lobbying.

Trump's executive order read:

Executive Order 13770 of January 28, 2017, "Ethics Commitments by Executive Branch Appointees," is hereby revoked, effective at noon January 20, 2021. Employees and former employees subject to the commitments in Executive Order 13770 will not be subject to those commitments after noon January 20, 2021.

Where Trump had once been praised for his executive action to stop the revolving door of government employees obtaining lucrative jobs in the private sector, Trump was blasted for his last-minute decision.

"The revocation of the five-year lobbying ban for presidential appointees is the perfect coda for the most corrupt administration in American history," Robert Weissman, president of the progressive think tank Public Citizen, said, the Washington Post reported.

Weissman added, "Now, as he exits the White House, Trump is revealing that even that signature policy was nothing more than a prop in his demagogic play-acting before the American people."

Former President Bill Clinton had issued similar lobbying restrictions when he entered office in 1993, but, just like Trump, revoked his order prior to leaving office in January 2001.

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