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Allison Graves
By Allison Graves January 30, 2017

Trump signs order placing lifetime ban on White House officials lobbying for foreign government

President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Jan. 28 banning administration officials from ever lobbying the United States on behalf of a foreign government, making good on one of his promises included in his Contract with the American Voter.

The order, dubbed "Ethics Commitments by Executive Branch Appointees," lays out a nine-part ethics pledge for every person in all executive agencies appointed on or after Jan. 20, 2017.

The fourth pledge in section 1 is where the lifetime ban comes in. It reads:

I will not, at any time after the termination of my employment in the United States Government, engage in any activity on behalf of any foreign government or foreign political party which, were it undertaken on January 20, 2017, would require me to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938, as amended.

The order also carves out exceptions for people under Section 3.

"The president or his designee may grant to any person a waiver of any restrictions contained in the pledge signed by such person," it reads.

Former President Barack Obama, who signed a similar executive order on Jan. 21, 2009, also allowed for waivers in his ethics agreement.

This waiver loophole knocked Obama's promise to enact tougher rules against the revolving door for lobbyists and former officials from Promise Kept, to Compromise, and finally to Promise Broken after he issued several waivers.

Obama's promise was different than Trump's, though. It specifically said no one would "work on regulations or contracts directly and substantially related to their prior employer for two years."

Trump's promise is less specific, but we'll keep an eye out for any waivers that might be signed.

For now, we rate this Promise Kept.

Our Sources

Donald J. Trump, Contract with the American Voter

PolitiFact, Obameter: "Tougher rules against revolving door for lobbyists and former officials," last updated on June 12, 2009., " Ethics Commitments by Executive Branch Appointees," Jan. 28, 2017.

The American Presidency Project, Barack Obama's Executive Order 13490—"Ethics Commitments by Executive Branch Personnel," signed Jan. 21, 2009.

Email to Steven Cheung, White House spokesperson, Jan. 30, 2017. 

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