The Trump administration has announced a change to the Anti-Trust Act that will “reduce the number of anti-corruption agencies” in the government, but it is unlikely to eliminate all corruption-fighting efforts in the executive branch.
The announcement comes as Trump is trying to “pivot” to a “soft power” strategy to win over congressional Republicans who have been hostile to his policies, including his controversial travel ban and his attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
The new definition of “anti-corruption agency” would allow for fewer federal agencies and smaller agencies, and it would eliminate the Anti-“Corruption Enforcement” Act of 1976, which was the centerpiece of the Watergate scandal.
The administration’s rationale is that a “smaller, less intrusive, and more efficient” government could make up for the lack of a “strong, centralized anti-corruption agency” by more efficiently enforcing anti-fraud laws.
Trump’s first term in office saw the creation of the Office of Special Counsel and the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division.
It also saw the ouster of the FBI director, James Comey, and the appointment of former Attorney General Sally Yates, a career prosecutor.
“We’ve had an unprecedented amount of work put into the anti-trust and corruption provisions of the anti- anti-competitive business practices legislation,” Michael Froman, the undersecretary of commerce, said in a speech on March 17, 2017.
“And those provisions were intended to help us to build a stronger, more powerful, more efficient economy.”
Froman told reporters that the changes to the anti]-trust provisions would “help protect American businesses and consumers.”
“That’s the mission of the department,” he said.
“To protect our nation’s businesses and our families.”
Under the new definition, the Department would be “more responsive to the public interest in enforcement,” he added.
The Department of the Treasury, under the Department’s Department of Treasury, is also set to lose its anti-discrimination and anti-harassment rules.
The Treasury Department, under Secretary Steven Mnuchin, was criticized for the use of “policies that targeted the LGBT community and the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community.”
The new rules would also have the effect of limiting how the Treasury could enforce federal anti-poverty and antimisuse enforcement rules.
“The changes that have been made are very good and helpful, but they don’t address the real problem in this country: the lack in the ability of the U.S. government to protect the people of this country from predatory business practices,” said Elizabeth Cagle, an economist at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
“I think the administration needs to take a hard look at whether it can actually get the necessary changes through Congress.”
The Trump transition team did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
But, on Monday, Mnuchin also defended the changes in an interview with CNBC, saying, “We don’t have any regulations, but we do have laws that govern who can participate in those activities.
We do have policies that govern the enforcement of those rules.”
“If a company is willing to do business with us, then that’s what we’re going to enforce,” Mnuchin said.
The Anti-Competition Enforcement Act of 1978, passed in the aftermath of Watergate, was a key component of the federal anti–bribery law known as the “Fair Deal” that was ultimately upheld by the Supreme Court.
The law was written to protect American business against the threat of competition from foreign firms that were seeking to undercut their own products.
“Our business model is that we want to have a strong, robust, and competitive marketplace,” Mnushu said.
Trump campaigned on a platform of building a “great America” that would create jobs and grow the economy, but he has also sought to weaken those principles in favor of the goals of his administration.
He has also called for the “purging” of federal agencies that are not fulfilling his promises to cut taxes, eliminate regulations, and eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse.
“These are real problems in the world,” Mnunchu said at a February 2017 press conference.
“They are problems that we’re addressing, and I think it’s going to be a long process to make sure that we get to the bottom of these things.”
Trump has promised to “destroy” the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which oversees the federal payday loan program, the National Labor Relations Board, the Consumer Credit Protection Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission.
“There is no good reason why we can’t get rid of the Consumer Fraud and Abuse Act,” Mnutsu said during a March 17 press conference on the anti–competitive business practice bill.
“That bill, I believe, would be a great disaster for our country.” The Anti–Fraud and Abuse Enforcement Act “has a history of creating and maintaining corrupt and ineffective enforcement agencies,” Froman said.