In an executive order from January 28 titled Ethics Commitments By Executive Branch Appointees, Trump referenced the term 'particular matter' used in the appointee ethics pledge to U.S.C. title 28 section 207, which does not exist.
Section 1. Ethics Pledge. Every appointee in every executive agency appointed on or after January 20, 2017, shall sign, and upon signing shall be contractually committed to, the following pledge upon becoming an appointee:
"6. I will not for a period of 2 years from the date of my appointment participate in any particular matter involving specific parties that is directly and substantially related to my former employer or former clients, including regulations and contracts.
(r) "Particular matter" shall have the same meaning as set forth in section 207 of title 28, United States Code, and section 2635.402(b)(3) of title 5, Code of Federal Regulations.The executive order prohibits executive branch employees from lobbying the specific executive agency they worked for within five years of their termination. However, as Propublica points out, the pledge does not prohibit appointees from working at executive agencies they formerly lobbied; it only prohibits them from participating in any 'particular matter involving specific parties' that they formerly lobbied for. The Office of Government Ethics defines particular matter as 'any matter that involves deliberation, decision or action that is focused upon the interests of specific persons, or a discrete and identifiable class of persons.' Particular matters may also include matters that do not involve specific parties, though Trump restricts the applicability to the first category, which is particular matters that involve specific parties. Former lobbyists that fall into the second category, particular matters that do not involve specific parties, include those who 'at least focus on the interests of a discrete and identifiable class of persons, such as a particular industry or profession.' Thus, former lobbyists of the second category can participate in particular matters that they formerly lobbied for. According to Propublica, both categories were excluded from participating in particular matters they formerly lobbied for under the Obama administration's ethics pledge, which meant that former lobbyists were not permitted to work in the executive agencies they formerly lobbied with the exception of a few waivers.