Trump frees former aides from ethics pledge, lobbying ban

AP Political
Donald Trump

FILE – In this Sept. 29, 2020, file photo, President Donald Trump holds up his face mask during the first presidential debate at Case Western University and Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland, Ohio. The U.S. death toll from the coronavirus has eclipsed 400,000 in the waning hours in office for Trump. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump, in one of his final acts of office, released current and former members of his administration from the terms of their ethics pledge, which included a five-year ban on lobbying their former agencies.

The ethics pledge was outlined in one of Trump’s first executive orders, signed on Jan. 28, 2017, as part of his campaign pledge to “drain the swamp.” It required Trump’s political appointees to agree to the lobbying ban, as well as pledge not to undertake work that would require them to register as a “foreign agent” after leaving government. Trump’s order authorized the attorney general to investigate any breaches of the ethics pledge and to pursue civil suits if necessary.

Trump signed the one-page revocation of the order on Tuesday, and it was released by the White House shortly after 1 a.m. Wednesday, hours before his term ends.

The new order states: “Employees and former employees subject to the commitments in Executive Order 13770 will not be subject to those commitments after noon January 20, 2021.”

President Bill Clinton signed a similar order with weeks left on his final term, allowing former aides to go directly into lobbying after leaving his administration.

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