Among the many promises Donald Trump made when he won the presidency was to ‘drain the swamp.’ The tale that the former president spun was that D.C. was a cesspool filled with corruption only he could cleanse. Trump started his decontamination by instituting an ethics policy that included a 5-year ban on members of his administration engaging in lobbying services. As with much of the two times impeached president’s tenure, it was all a hoax.
As Trump was escaping the capital for his Florida residence, he issued an order that nullifies the ethics pledge made by all members of his administration. “Employees and former employees subject to the commitments in Executive Order 13770 will not be subject to those commitments after noon January 20, 2021,” the order reads. During his 2016 campaign, Trump regularly attacked politicians, lobbyists, and members of the “political elite” who he said were out of touch with Americans and put their own interests above those of the nation.
Trump used this pledge to show he was committed to draining the swamp, but his actions showed he thrived in the muck. The former president instituted a major loosening of ethics standards when compared with the administration of his predecessor, Barack Obama, as well as the rules that will govern President Joe Biden’s White House. The pledge had large loopholes that allowed many to skirt the rules, and the administration avoided its enforcement.
“The first rule of ethics enforcement is you need to have strong standards. Then you need to back them up with intense transparency. And you also need to reinforce the whole thing with tone from the top. Trump did the opposite on all three,” said Norm Eisen, President Obama’s former ethics czar. “He made a mockery of it by having a corrupt tone.”
By rescinding his ethics executive order before leaving office, Trump freed former officials to leverage their experience to secure high-paying jobs in Washington’s influence industry. Lobbyists have the ability to exert pressure on members of congress, which can help these Trump loyalists continue to champion the disgraced president’s agenda. Trump now resides at Mar-A-Lago, but he made sure his influence will live on in the swamp.