Perhaps sooner than you’d think too, thanks to a last-minute EO from Donald Trump. The outgoing president offered his valedication at Andrews AFB on his way to private life in Florida, a few hours before Joe Biden officially succeeds him as president. In his farewell, Trump offered his thanks and his love, and wished the “new administration great luck.”
And perhaps not quite as optimistically as one might think, added, “We will be back — in some form”:
— CNN (@CNN) January 20, 2021
Some of them might never leave in the first place. In a surprising last-minute executive order, Trump reversed his own 2017 ban on former White House officials conducting lobbying efforts. That was part of Trump’s “drain the swamp” program, but the reversal allows his own staffers to go immediately into the lobbying industry. Theoretically, anyway:
In the final hours of his term, President Trump rescinded early Wednesday an executive order he had issued years earlier to bar former White House employees from lobbying the government after they leave their jobs.
The order was rescinded around 1 a.m., just after Mr. Trump issued 143 clemency grants to allies, associates and low-level offenders serving lengthy sentences.
The original order issued in 2017 was one of the few concrete steps that Mr. Trump took in his pledge to “drain the swamp.”
It expanded on rules adopted during the Obama administration and included a five-year ban for former officials lobbying the agencies they once worked for.
That’s only a theoretical change, of course. At the moment, having tenure in the Trump administration isn’t exactly a big plus on the lobbying resumé, not with Democrats in charge of both chambers of Congress and the White House. Even among Republicans it might not be terribly popular after the “stop the steal” nonsense helped lose two Senate seats in Georgia and touched off the sacking of the Capitol.
With that in mind, one has to wonder why Trump reversed it at all. He probably felt some loyalty to his staff, which is commendable even if that kind of loyalty is part of the swampiness the original EO was meant to stamp out. It would have been smarter to force Biden to live with it, especially since the five-year ban would still have overlapped the last year of the Obama-Biden administration, or take steps to reverse it himself and pay the political price. He gave Biden a freebie instead, perhaps in the hope that his team could still exert influence in DC after his departure, which is … wildly optimistic under the circumstances.
There are other potential forms in which Trump could “be back,” some of which we might get to later today. For now, though, we can expect the Trumps to set up shop in Florida and stay put for a while, doing damage control after two months of outright insanity. That might disillusion the thousands of QAnoners who think Trump has moved the capital to Mar-a-Lago, but it’s the only possible way Trump can ever plan to be “back” in any form. In the meantime, we can only imagine what Trump said in his private note to Biden:
— ABC News (@ABC) January 20, 2021