• Trump told then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at a 2017 White House briefing: "I need you to get rid of that law," referring to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
  • The president's efforts to repeal the law were unsuccessful.
  • The anti-bribery law remains heavily enforced in recent years.
  • He previously said in a 2012 CNBC interview that "the world is laughing at us" for enforcing the law.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories .

President Donald Trump sought to end a law barring American companies from paying off foreigners and called it "so unfair" to US business operations overseas, according to a new book by two Washington Post reporters.

According to authors Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig in their book, "A Very Stable Genius," Trump talked about the law at a briefing in the White House in the spring of 2017 with then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and several aides.

After a bribery allegation was discussed, Trump "perked up" and said to Tillerson he wanted his help in tossing out the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act .

The president said it was "just so unfair that American companies aren't allowed to pay bribes to get business overseas," The Washington Post reported . "We're going to change that."

"I need you to get rid of that law," Trump told Tillerson, per The New York Times . After Tillerson noted that Congress would have to repeal it, Trump tried to get Stephen Miller, a senior policy aide, to draft an executive order striking down the law.

But Miller demurred, saying he didn't think the order would withstand legal scrutiny.

Rucker and Leonnig wrote that Trump's irritation arose "ostensibly because it restricted his industry buddies or his own company's executives from paying off foreign governments in faraway lands," Vox reported .

The 1977 law bans US companies from bribing foreigners to either expand or maintain their business operations and remains heavily enforced despite initial fears the Trump administration would try eliminating it. It's led to several cases with colossal fines for foreign and domestic companies in recent years, with German electronics giant Siemens and Halliburton among them .

Trump previously ridiculed the "horrible" law in a 2012 CNBC interview , saying "the world is laughing at us" for enforcing it.

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