Democrats Investigating Why White House Ended Ban on Some Gun Silencer Sales

WASHINGTON — Congressional Democrats said on Tuesday that they were investigating the Trump administration’s decision to lift a ban on firearm silencer sales to foreign private buyers that had been enacted to prevent the devices from being used against American troops.

Democrats are focusing in part on the involvement of Michael B. Williams, a White House lawyer who had worked for two years for a trade group representing silencer manufacturers that had lobbied to overturn the ban. The administration lifted the ban this month, paving the way for as much as $250 million a year in possible new foreign sales for companies that Mr. Williams had championed as general counsel of the American Suppressor Association.

Representative Stephen F. Lynch, Democrat of Massachusetts and chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee’s subcommittee on national security issues, sent a letter Tuesday to the White House budget office requesting documents related to the move, and Mr. Williams’s role in pushing it.

“The overseas sale of U.S. defense articles, especially when those weapons could endanger the safety and security of our men and women in uniform, cannot and should not be influenced by personal financial or political interests,” Mr. Lynch wrote.

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