Vice President-elect Mike Pence has purged several lobbyists from the White House transition team. The mass firings arrived after criticism that President-elect Donald Trump was not following through on his vow to clean up Washington, D.C.
On Nov. 15, Pence signed a memorandum of understanding, officially making him the leader of the Trump transition team. He is now purging the team that had been assembled by Republican Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, who stepped down from his position of transition leader after the election, Fox News reports.
A source familiar with the decision said the lobbyist purge “makes good on [Trump’s] vision of how he wants his government constructed.”
Pence’s decision to fire all lobbyists has left the transition team in disarray with key roles now vacant.
The transition team’s original makeup of lobbyists and Wall Street insiders had drawn fierce criticism from Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
On Nov. 15, Warren forwarded a letter to Trump blasting his transition team’s composition of lobbyists, urging him to fire up to 20 staffers who had ties to special interests.
“If you refuse, I will oppose you, every step of the way, for the next four years,” Warren wrote. “I will champion the millions of Americans you will fail to protect. I will track your every move, and I will remind Americans, every day, of the actions you take that fail them.”
In a call with reporters, Sanders accused Trump of reneging on his vow to clean up Washington.
“Mr. Trump described himself as a populist taking on the establishment, someone who would ‘drain the swamp,’” Sanders said, according to The Washington Post. “Unfortunately, what we’re beginning to see is what I feared, which is a lot of what Mr. Trump said to get votes is not what he intends to do as president of the United States.”
On Nov. 13, Trump had defended his transition team during an interview with CBS News’ “60 Minutes.”
“Everybody’s a lobbyist down there... I mean, the whole place is one big lobbyist,” Trump said.