Donald Trump revokes ethics ban on aides as he exits Washington

20 January 2021 - 15:31
By Reuters
Donald Trump withdrew the ethics order that had said his appointees would not lobby their own agency for five years after leaving, and would not lobby any government appointee for two years.
Image: REUTERS/Erin Scott Donald Trump withdrew the ethics order that had said his appointees would not lobby their own agency for five years after leaving, and would not lobby any government appointee for two years.

Outgoing US President Donald Trump, who won the White House in part by promising to “drain the swamp” of Washington political manoeuvring, on Wednesday revoked his executive order barring aides and other administration officials from lobbying.

The restrictions, imposed soon after he took office in 2017, had targeted the kind of insider culture the Republican Trump had campaigned against and blocked the kind of lucrative gigs that he had said makes politicians beholden to business interests instead of everyday Americans.

In an executive order released overnight, hours before he was due to leave office, Trump withdrew the ethics order that had said his appointees would not lobby their own agency for five years after leaving, and would not lobby any government appointee for two years.

It had also required them to agree to a lifetime ban on working on behalf of foreign governments or foreign political parties.

Trump, who lost his re-election bid, officially departs office at noon on Wednesday when Democrat Joe Biden takes the oath of office following a turbulent election season that culminated in Trump loyalists storming the US Capitol this month in a failed attempt to stop Congress from certifying the results.

Trump, a real estate developer and former reality television star, never formally separated himself from his business interests while in office, although he said he had handed day-to-day control over to his two eldest sons. The arrangement, which ethicists said did not prevent conflicts of interest, prompted legal challenges.

Former Democratic President Bill Clinton rescinded his own five-year ban barring senior White House officials from lobbying former colleagues as he exited the White House in 2000 after two terms in office.