White House grants 14 ethics waivers to staff

The waiver, which was undated, did not mention Bannon specifically but appeared to benefit him by potentially dislodging him from a pending ethics complaint over his past discussions with Breitbart editors.

In reality, Trump's White House is filled with lobbyists and waivers.

Every employee in the executive office was granted a waiver to be able to talk to the press, while all commissioned employees were granted a blanket waiver to talk with political organizations. The waivers show an "utter disregard for ethical standards" in the Trump White House, Weissman said.

Others were given waivers to work with issue areas that they served as lobbyists prior to their White House tenure. Those aides were Michael Catanzaro, an energy and environmental policy adviser, Shahira Knight, a tax and retirement policy adviser, and Andrew Olmem, a financial policy adviser. Pence was Indiana's governor before becoming vice president.

But many White House officials working high-profile jobs in the private sector before their positions in the White House are not included in the list.

However, ethics watchdogs were quick to jump on the Trump team for ignoring its own rules.

- Joshua Pitcock, chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, who lobbied on behalf of the state of IN on several issues when Pence was governor. Now he will be working on "a broad portfolio" of similar issues for the government. OGE Director Walter Shaub Jr. issued a forceful letter defending the office's legal standing and asserting his intention to implement ethics rules "with independence, free from political pressure".

The concern was not with the waiver it was that the waiver was "retroactive".

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"If you engage in prohibited conduct without a waiver, you've violated a rule", he said Thursday. A week into his presidency, he began making good on this promise by signing an executive order that added loopholes to the Obama-era ethics policy. The exemption allowed White House aides to communicate with Breitbart News.

Trump was livid, and Gingrich quickly released a hostage-style video explaining that he was mistaken.

He noted that the raft of waivers "vastly exceeds the number issued in the early months of the Obama administration and, more importantly, authorizes conflicts not permitted" during the last administration.

White House Senior Advisor Kellyanne Conway holds up a memorandum from the Justice Department's Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein critical of Comey's position as director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation at the White House in Washington, U.S., May 10, 2017. John Brennan, at the time one of Obama's deputy national security advisers, had previously worked for The Analysis Company, and he was granted a waiver to use the company's data while investigating the so-called "Underwear Bomber" incident. "Both the individual employee's interests and those of the government are best served when this process is carried out in a careful and consistent manner".

Other White House staffers who received waivers include Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, counselor Kellyanne Conway and chief legal counsel Donald McGahn.

White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said in a statement Wednesday that the voluntary release of the ethics waivers is "part of the president's commitment to the American people to be transparent".

"The only retroactive waiver I have ever heard of is called a pardon", Painter wrote in an email.

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