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Trump Revokes Administration Ethics Rules On His Way Out The Door

President Trump exits the Oval Office and walks to the South Lawn of the White House on Oct. 1. As he leaves the White House for the final time, Trump has rescinded rules prohibiting members of his administration from lobbying agencies where they worked for five years.
Drew Angerer
/
Getty Images
President Trump exits the Oval Office and walks to the South Lawn of the White House on Oct. 1. As he leaves the White House for the final time, Trump has rescinded rules prohibiting members of his administration from lobbying agencies where they worked for five years.

In one of his final acts in office, in the wee hours of the night, President Trump revoked Executive Order 13770, an order on ethics he signed when he first took office, freeing the way for people who have served in his administration to cash in with lobbying gigs.

When Trump signed the order on Jan. 28, 2017, he hailed it as a fulfillment of his campaign promise to "drain the swamp." Among other things, it banned administration officials from lobbying the agencies where they worked for a full five years after the termination of their employment.

"It's a two-year ban now, and it's got full of loopholes, and this is a five-year ban," Trump boasted at the time, joking that the people standing around him for the signing ceremony had one last chance to get out before the order took effect and limited their options.

Trump's reversal isn't unprecedented. In the final weeks of his presidency, former President Bill Clinton revoked his administration's ethics order, something he was criticized for doing. One of the people who knocked that move was none other than candidate Donald Trump. "He rigged the system on his way out," Trump said of Clinton's move in a 2016 statement.

Trump has now done the same thing he was so critical of five years ago.

This comes as Trump issued more than 140 pardons and commutations on his way out, including lending a hand to friends, Republican donors and a rapper who endorsed his 2020 campaign. Trump, however, did not pardon himself or his adult children in that raft of clemency actions.

Aides to President-elect Joe Biden say he will sign an order Wednesday requiring those serving in his administration to agree to an ethics pledge. It has become standard for presidents to issue ethics guidelines via executive order in their early days in office.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Tamara Keith has been a White House correspondent for NPR since 2014 and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast, the top political news podcast in America. Keith has chronicled the Trump administration from day one, putting this unorthodox presidency in context for NPR listeners, from early morning tweets to executive orders and investigations. She covered the final two years of the Obama presidency, and during the 2016 presidential campaign she was assigned to cover Hillary Clinton. In 2018, Keith was elected to serve on the board of the White House Correspondents' Association.

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