Drain the swamp? Trump gave ethics waivers to top staffers, negating his executive order

Source: Andrew Harnik/AP

President Donald Trump has exempted at least 16 people, including some of his top White House aides, from an ethics executive order that he claimed made good on his promise to "drain the swamp" in Washington, D.C., the New York Times reported.

Three of Trump's top staffers — Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Chief Strategist Steve Bannon and White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway — are exempt from a provision that would have prohibited them from working with former clients from their time before entering the Trump administration.

Priebus was cleared to work with the Republican National Committee — for which he served as chairman — while Conway was given a waiver to work with her "former clients."

A waiver that allows all executive office appointees to talk to the media allows Bannon to contact Breitbart News reporters, despite the fact that Bannon was an executive for the far-right outlet.

Others were given waivers to work with issue areas that they served as lobbyists prior to their White House tenure.

That includes Andrew Olmem, a financial lobbyist by trade, who now serves as special assistant to the president for financial policy.

Michael Catanzaro, an oil and gas lobbyist, who now works to roll back environmental regulations that directly impact the oil and gas industry.

The Trump administration only made the waivers public after intense prodding from the Office of Government Ethics.

According to the New York Times, Trump issued more than five times the number of waivers than the Obama administration gave out in the first four months of his tenure.

The people given waivers by former President Barack Obama included his senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, who worked with some nonprofits before her time in the White House. Jocelyn Frye, former first lady Michelle Obama's director of policy and projects, was given a waiver to work on issues related to women and families, despite having worked for the nonprofit National Partnership for Women Families.