Society

Pence Removes Chris Christie Lobbyists From Trump Team

| by Denise Recalde

Transition director and Vice President-elect Mike Pence reportedly purged the White House transition team of some of its lobbyists on Nov. 15, the day he took control of the transition process. 

Pence fired the team New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie had built when he was transition director and replaced it with one that "makes good" on Trump's campaign promise to "drain the swamp," the Daily Mail reports. 

In a Nov. 13 interview with Lesley Stahl on "60 Minutes," Trump said he hired lobbyists for his transition team because "that's the only people you have down there."

"Everybody's a lobbyist down there," the president-elect told Stahl. "They're lobbyists or special interests."

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Trump said he is "trying to clean up Washington" in an effort to uphold his campaign promises. 

"But everybody that works for government, they then leave government and they become a lobbyist, essentially. I mean, the whole place is one big lobbyist," he said.

The president-elect further told the interviewer: "I’m saying that they know the system right now, but we’re going to phase that out. You have to phase it out."

Since the interview, Trump decided to reform his transition team, which under Christie's leadership, had consisted of not only lobbyists, but of old-school government officials and corporate lawyers.

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National security expert and former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers was one of the people on the transitional government's team replaced by Pence.

"Sometimes in politics ... there are people who are in and people who are out," Rogers said on CNN on Nov. 15. "And the people who have been asked to move on have some relationship with Chris Christie."

Five people who had connections with Christie were fired from the team, Rogers said. 

"And you know what? That's absolutely the campaign's prerogative," he said.

Lobbyist and former Rep. Pete Hoekstra of Michigan is replacing Rogers, The Hill reports. Hoekstra is an official lobbyist at Williams & Jensen, which represents clients including Dell, Anthem, Visa, Eli Lilly & Company, the Security Traders Association, General Electric, the American Business Group of Abu Dhabi and PhRMA.

Trump had previously proposed a number of ethics reforms seeking to reign in the influence of lobbyists on government. 

He has proposed making former federal and congressional officials to wait five years before accepting a lobbying position. In addition, he has proposed banning former White House officials from ever accepting lobbying positions with a foreign government. 

It is still unclear whether Trump will preserve President Barack Obama's restrictions on lobbyists working in the administration. He may strengthen the outgoing president's rules, significantly weaken them or remove them altogether.  

Sources: Daily Mail, The Hill / Photo credit: WFLD

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