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It appears clear now why the Trump administration fought so difficult in order to avoid making public the facts of the waivers it granted to White House staffers who might otherwise have been around in violation of the presidents self-imposed ethics rules. They show that President Donald Trump, who made drain the swamp a campaign battle cry, has enlisted numerous swamp-dwellersformer lobbyists, consultants, corporate executivesto staff key positions in his White House and contains granted them broad exemptions to focus on issues directly linked to their former jobs and clients.
After repeatedly slamming DC lobbyists through the campaign, Trump used one of is own first executive orders to construct ethics rules for his new administration. The January 28 order barred Trump officials from focusing on issues linked to their former employers for at the very least 2 yrs, and these rules applied not merely to lobbyists, but to anyone who worked for a small business or organization potentially suffering from federal policy decisions. The prohibitions weren’t absolute: Waivers will be obtainable in certain cases.
The Trump administration initially balked once the Office of Government Ethics demanded the White House give the waivers it had granted. But following a standoff the administration relented late Wednesday and released about 14 waivers covering White House staffers. They explain that Trumps ethics rules are remarkably flexible and that his top staffers dont have to worry an excessive amount of about staying on the proper side of these. In some recoverable format, Trumps rules act like those imposed by President Barack Obama, nonetheless it appears that Trump is a lot more willing to give away exemptions. At this time in the National government, just three White House staffers have been granted ethics waivers. Up to now, Trump has granted 14, including several that connect with multiple people.
White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and adviser Kellyanne Conway were both granted waivers to cope with issues involving their previous employers. Regarding Priebus, this narrowly pertains to the Republican National Committee. But Conway is currently free to focus on issues involving her ex-clients from her previous life being an operative and pollsterclients that included political campaigns, nonprofit activist groups, and corporations.
Conways relationships with one of these clients were murky in the first place; she was never necessary to disclose who she worked for. We can say for certain that she repped virulently anti-immigration and anti-Muslim groups. The names of a few of her corporate clients likewise have trickled out, including Major League Baseball, Hasbro, American Express, and Boeing. The waiver might have been granted to greatly help smooth just how for Conway after evidence emerged that she continued to use own her polling and consulting company even with shed attended work in the White Housea possible violation of conflict-of-interest laws that drew the eye of congressional Democrats who’ve begun probing her relationship with the business.
Conways waiver had not been retroactive, but there is another that specifically allows White House employees to communicate freely with former employers and coworkers at media organizationsand applies back again to January 20. Trumps executive order didnt simply prohibit some of his hires from focusing on matters associated with a former employerit specifically covered any meeting or communication associated with the performance of ones official duties. This implies at the very least two of Trumps top aides, former Breitbart News chairman Steve Bannon and his assistant Julia Hahn, will be prohibited from communicating with their former colleagues at Breitbart about anything work-relateda rule that Bannon appears never to have followed. Without named, it appears likely that protecting the Breitbart alums from ethics complaints was desire to.
Another takeaway from Trumps waivers is they seem to be much less restrictive than National government waivers. Many Obama waivers (there have been only 10 total granted to White House employees during his administration) were very narrowly tailored. For instance, James Jones, Obamas national security adviser, was granted a waiver to permit him to introduce Bill Clinton at a meeting for the Atlantic Council, despite the fact that Jones had previously worked for the group. John Brennan, at that time among Obamas deputy national security advisers, had previously worked for The Analysis Company, and he was granted a waiver to utilize the companys data while investigating the so-called Underwear Bomber incident. Brennan had not been cleared to speak to the companys employees, however.
Trumps waivers, however, are broad.
For example, Trump granted a waiver to Michael Catanzaro, who’s the presidents most senior energy policy aide, allowing him to work freely on broad policy matters and particular matters of general applicability associated with the Clean Power Plan, the WOTUS [Waters of the United States] rule, and methane regulations. Catanzaro worked as a registered lobbyist for a number of coal and oil companies as recently as January, which made the waiver necessary. On his latest lobbying disclosure formfiled with respect to one of is own clients, gas company Noble EnergyCatanzaro wrote he was focusing on EPA and BLMs proposed and final regulations covering methane emissions from new and existing coal and oil facilities. Nearly identical language appears in his latest lobbying disclosure with respect to another gas company, Encana. Basically, Catanzaro is currently making policy on the issues he was paid by corporations to lobby on. You can find no restrictions in Catanzaros waiver associated with his previous clients.
Another lobbyist turned Trump aide is Shahira Knight, who was simply previously employed as vice president of public policy for mutual fund giant Fidelity and today serves as Trumps special assistant for tax and retirement policy. Her waiver grants her permission to focus on matters of general applicability associated with tax, retirement and financial services issues. Fidelitys latest lobbying reportfiled while Knight ran its lobbying shoplists the primary issue areas targeted by the companys lobbyists: finance, retirement, banking, and taxes.
As the National government reluctantly granted waivers for narrow sets of circumstances, the Trump waivers look like written to carefully exempt the prior lobbying work done by White House aides.
Which is just the start. The administration released only the waivers granted to White House employeesthe release will not include waivers granted to administration officials who work with federal agencies, like the Environmental Protection Agency or the Treasury Department. The White House will turn those waivers to any office of Government Ethics on Thursday, but its not yet determined when they will undoubtedly be made public.