Once he got into office, Trump quickly signed a stern ethics order that seemed to close the notorious revolving door that allowed people to move freely between working for the federal government and lobbying the federal government on behalf of private interests. But he just as quickly granted waivers that allowed political appointees to violate the rules that Trump had just put in place. Promising to drain the swamp, he merely stirred its murky surface.
When I confronted him with this fact, Trump bristled. “We need certain people to run the country well, at the top level,” he argued. “We have granted waivers. How often do we grant waivers? Have you seen? Not too much, right?” At the same time, he seemed clearly discomfited by the fact that where Trump saw a political movement, others saw nothing but a means for profit. He did not know, for example, that Ryan Zinke, the interior secretary he had fired the previous December, had joined Turnberry Solutions, a Capitol Hill lobbying firm started by Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s first campaign manager…
Trump tried to rationalize how Zinke becoming a lobbyist did not fly in the face of the promises he had made as a candidate. “I guess you can’t stop people from going out and doing what they do,” the president said. “In some cases, they’ve been here from day one, when people said I didn’t have much of a chance. Then they work for years. Then all of a sudden they’re in a position where people are calling them because they think they’re geniuses and they want them to work for them. That’s been going on from George Washington until the present, let’s face it. That’s what happens.”
Zinke wasn’t the only one.