Trump filled it with hawkish generals, billionaires like himself and neocons – serving Wall Street, war-profiteers, and other corporate interests at the expense of vitally needed change.
Ignoring his Ethics Commitments by Executive Branch Appointees EO, he granted waivers to at least 16 administration staffers – including chief White House strategist Steve Bannon, White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway, and four former lobbyists among others.
With certain restrictions, presumably they’re no longer banned from lobbying any US government official for two years after returning to private life, and the administration they worked in for five years.
They’re free after government service to lobby on behalf of any foreign government or political parties.
It’s likely OK for them accept gifts from registered lobbyists or lobbying organizations while performing public service – all of the above prohibited by Trump’s January EO.
The order is supposed to be “enforceable…by any legally available means,” including “debarment proceedings within any affected executive agency or civil judicial proceedings for declaratory, injunctive, or monetary relief.”
Instead of the EO applying to all White House staffers as announced, it excludes ones Trump wants exempted from its provisions – making a mockery of swamp draining, along with a rogue’s gallery of officials he appointed to high administration posts.
In response to his latest broken promise, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington executive director Noah Bookbinder issued a statement saying:
His “administration is chock full of senior officials working on issues on which they lobbied, meeting with companies in which they have a financial interest, or working closely with former employers.”
“No one has believed for months that this president or his administration had any interest in ethics, but these waivers make clear the remarkable extent to which they are comfortable mixing their own personal interests with the country’s. It’s no wonder they waited for the cover of night to release them.”
Waivers were broad in scope, leaving lots of wiggle room for designated individuals to operate free from accountability for compromising the letter and spirit of Trump’s ethics EO.
An administration spokesman said “(t)he White House has voluntarily released the ethics waivers as part of the president’s commitment to the American people to be transparent.”
“The White House Counsel’s Office worked closely with all White House officials to avoid conflicts arising from their former places of employment or investment holdings.”
“To the furthest extent possible, counsel worked with each staffer to recuse from conflicting conduct rather than being granted waivers, which has led to the limited number of waivers being issued.”
According to Public Citizen’s president Robert Weissman, “for the Trump White House, even its own highly touted ethics rules are no more than an inconvenience to be waived aside if they interfere with corporate business as usual.”
His waivers show “both the corporate takeover of the government and the Trump administration’s utter disregard for ethical standards.”