Donald Trump’s transition team has lost almost half it’s staff and volunteers in just a few days after instituting a ban on lobbyists less than a week ago.
“All the lobbyists are gone,” one source familiar with the transition told Daily Mail. “Lobbyists were the vast majority. Now, today you go in and you could count them maybe on one hand.”
The source believes that the transition team plummeted from 250 people at the end of last week to just 125 on Tuesday, allowing conservative think tanks like the Heritage Foundation and the Competitive Enterprise Institute to take the lead in the transition. One lobbyist who was close to the transition team said that though “almost all of” the lobbyists are gone, many are still trying to influence what’s happening from the outside.
“Everybody that’s still there has signed a letter saying they’ve deregistered and are okay with the five year ban,” said the source. “It’s not like any transition I’ve ever seen before.”
The mass exodus began last Friday, when officials in team Trump asked all transition workers to sign a form certifying that they were either not currently registered as lobbyists or foreign agents or that they were in the process of terminating their lobbying registration. This came after Trump promised to “drain the swamp” of Washington D.C. by cutting off lobbyists and special interest groups from his administration.
Vice president-elect Mike Pence told reporters that this ban on lobbyists indicates Trump’s commitment to change.
“We made changes — we moved lobbyists out of the transition team and that’s going to continue to be a lodestar,” said Pence.
Insiders say the ban has had an unprecedented impact on the transition.
“It’s beyond night and day the improvement,” said a source familiar with the transition. “Lobbyists wanted to be around and schmooze, get to know people, help their buddies and members of congress get appointments. They did not really want to join the administration.”
“Essentially, by just whacking all of the registered lobbyists, you now have think tank people,” the source added.
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