A new excerpt from the book A Very Stable Genius by Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker shows that President Donald Trump wanted to change U.S. law that prevents corrupt business practices abroad. 

In the spring of 2017, Trump and then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson were discussing the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977. According to the Justice Department, that law makes it, “unlawful for certain classes of persons and entities to make payments to foreign government officials to assist in obtaining or retaining business.”

“It’s just so unfair that American companies aren’t allowed to pay bribes to get business overseas,” Trump reportedly told Tillerson. “We’re going to change that.” According to the authors, Trump was frustrated, “because [the law] restricted his industry buddies or his own company’s executives from paying off foreign governments in faraway lands.” 

He then reportedly told Tillerson to  “to get rid of that law.” When Tillerson said it would be virtually impossible to revoke, the President turned to Stephen Miller to draft an executive order that would repeal it. 


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White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow told reporters last Friday, “We are looking at [the law], and we have heard some complaints from our companies. I don’t want to say anything definitive policy-wise, but we are looking at it.”

The removal of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act would benefit Trump’s foreign businesses substantially.  

Business experts say the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act is a powerful “soft power” tool for fighting corruption around the world to be repealed. While other countries do that anti-corruption business laws, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act has the largest impact on the global economy.

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