Trump Did One Thing While in Office To ‘Drain the Swamp.’ He Just Revoked It.

No explanation was given for Trump’s decision to rescind the order, in the dying hours of his administration.
Trump Did One Thing While in Office To ‘Drain the Swamp.’ He Just Revoked It.
Photo: Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

His critics always saw Donald Trump’s campaign promise to “drain the swamp” as little more than a catchy motto to help him win the 2016 election — and in the dying hours of his presidency, on Wednesday morning, he proved them right.

Moments after issuing 143 pardons and commutations to friends, allies, rappers, and corrupt lawmakers, Trump rescinded Executive Order 13770, which had banned appointees of the administration from lobbying the government for five years or ever working for foreign governments after they left their posts.


Trump signed the order just eight days into his presidency on Jan. 28, 2017. In front of TV cameras and flanked by senior aides, Trump said: “Most of the people standing behind me will not be able to go to work” after they leave the government.

The order had forced federal employees to sign a pledge saying they would never work as a registered foreign lobbyist or lobbying the federal agencies where they worked for a period of five years. 

No explanation was given for Trump’s 11th-hour decision to rescind the order.

During his time in office, Trump did little to follow through on his attacks against what he called the “swamp,” or curb the power and influence wielded by moneyed interests in Washington.

Trump made five specific campaign pledges to “drain the swamp” and curtail the influence of lobbyists but a Washington Post review last year found that he sought to address only two. Those were addressed in the January 2017 order that he has now reversed.

A 2019 ProPublica investigation found that the executive order was effectively toothless anyway, with at least 33 former administration officials ignoring their pledge and becoming lobbyists anyway.

The decision to scrap the rule may have come as a result of reports that White House staff were finding it increasingly difficult to secure work following weeks of Trump’s conspiracy theory-laden objections to the election results and his role in inciting the attack on Capitol Hill.

President-elect Joe Biden is planning on issuing his own executive order in relation to White House ethics as soon as he enters office, which will be stricter than those put in place by Trump or Barack Obama.