Tag Archives: Office of Government Ethics

POTUS is a ‘wannabe autocrat’?

Walter Shaub isn’t going quietly into the night now that he has left an important public service job.

Oh, no. The former head of the Office of Government Ethics has kept his voice and is using it to criticize the man who made his job impossible to navigate.

Donald J. Trump posted a tweet showing “CNN”s blood on the sole of his shoe,” according to Shaub.

Shaub then fired off a tweet in which he called the president a “wannabe autocrat” who sends out “colicky tweets (that) reveal he is hurting this weekend. They make him (and our country) look weak.”

Trump keeps tweeting his message

The president has made clear his intention to use this social media device as his preferred method of communication. He tweets incessantly, spouting public policy pronouncements alongside petulant insults and even the occasional disrespectful utterance about this or that cherished institution or individual.

He won’t stop using this method. I am accepting this now as Trump’s modus operandi. 

However, he exposes himself to critics — such as government ethicists such as Shaub — to call it how they see it.

I happen to agree with the ex-government ethics watchdog.

Trump is weakening the presidency — and the country — with these idiotic Twitter tirades. This isn’t how you “make America great again,” Mr. President.

Meet one of POTUS’s ‘worst nightmares’

The list of Donald J. Trump’s “worst nightmares” seems to keep growing.

You have Robert Mueller, Stephen Bannon, James Comey, Sean Spicer, Michael Flynn and perhaps Don Trump Jr. standing by to give the Big Man a serious case of heartburn.

Walter Shaub is no slouch in the “worst nightmare” department, though. The former head of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, took part in a Texas Tribune discussion to talk about government ethics, which in Shaub’s mind is no oxymoron.

He quit his job at OGE out of frustration dealing with the Trump administration.

As the Tribune reports: The last straw for Shaub, who is now with an organization called the Campaign Legal Center, was having to fight for a month to get basic ethics records that did not even turn out to be useful.

In general, Shaub said, Trump’s actions represent a “significant departure” from “ethical norms.” He added that it will be on the next president to repair the damage that’s been done.

“I put up as good of a fight as I could,” said Schaub, who resigned in July.

I continue to believe that the president’s lack of understanding of government has contributed to the ethical morass he has helped create. Trump’s business background simply is not well-suited to adapt to the complexities associated with service in the massive federal government.

Another panelist at the Tribune event, Richard Painter, former ethics lawyer for President George W. Bush, also has been a harsh critic of Trump. According to the Tribune: “People voted for Donald Trump to be a president … not to be a king,” he said. “He’s gotta respect the Constitution or he’s not gonna keep his job.”

There might lie the greatest problem facing Trump as he seeks to shake loose from the crises that are gripping his administration. He doesn’t know — or seemingly want to know — how the Constitution works, how it limits his power and how it sets forth “checks and balances” on presidential overreach.

One such overreach might involve Mueller, the special counsel assigned to investigate the Trump campaign’s alleged ties to the Russian government. As the Tribune reports: “The biggest threat we’re facing is any threat to Bob Mueller being fired,” Shaub said. Should that happen, Shaub said he would take to the streets and that others should too.

Ethics, Mr. President, really do matter. They matter a great deal. Just listen — for once, sir — to these fellows. They know of which they speak.

Ethics head quits amid serious questions about Trump

Walter Shaub isn’t exactly a household name. Until now. Maybe. Perhaps.

Shaub has just quit as the head of the Office of Government Ethics. He is leaving his post six months before the end of his term. Why the early out?

It appears that Shaub has grown tired of battling with the president of the United States over the myriad ethical questions surrounding the president and his business interests around the world.

Shaub has been battling with Donald Trump over the president’s refusal to divest himself of the business interests, handing it all over to his sons while remaining as CEO of the empire.

The Hill reported: “Shaub told CBS News on Thursday evening that he doesn’t know whether Trump is profiting from his businesses, but that’s not the point.

“‘I can’t know what their intention is. I know that the effect is that there’s an appearance that the businesses are profiting from his occupying the presidency,’ he told CBS News correspondent Julianna Goldman during the first televised interview following his resignation.

“‘And appearance matters as much as reality, so even aside from whether or not that’s actually happening, we need to send a message to the world that the United States is going to have the gold standard for an ethics program in government, which is what we’ve always had,’ he continued.

Read the whole Hill article here.

Appearance matters as much as reality. Yes, and that is what Donald Trump doesn’t even begin to comprehend.

Comedians joke that the term “government ethics” has become a major-league oxymoron. The vastness of Donald Trump’s business empire has created an ethical morass for anyone charged with the task of trying to guide a presidential administration down a straight-and-narrow path.

Meanwhile, there’s this Kellyanne Conway matter

Russia dominates the news. Then we get questions about Donald Trump’s tweets and reckless accusations.

The White House then decides to sweep away complaints about senior policy adviser Kellyanne Conway blurting out a free ad for one of Ivanka Trump’s line of clothing. She did so on TV a few weeks ago, prompting yet another tempest over whether the Trump administration is doing enough to separate itself from its myriad business interests around the world.

Conway well could have broken a federal law that prohibits government officials from promoting private business.

Isn’t that what senior policy adviser Conway did when she took up for Ivanka’s product line after a major department store chain decided to stop selling it?

And … um … isn’t that a violation of federal law?

The Office of Government Ethics reportedly is concerned that the White House has decided against doing anything about Conway’s free ad for Ivanka’s products.

Will that get the president’s attention? Will it prompt him — at the very least — take Conway to the proverbial “woodshed” and give her the scolding she deserves?

OGE director Walter Shaub, moreover, is concerned that the president seems to think White House employees are exempt from those laws.

Um, no Mr. President. Not true.

Someone, somehow, has to get it through the president’s thick skull that ethics rules apply to all government employees. White House staffers all work for you and me and as such they are subject to precisely the same rules as other federal employees.

Trump team continues to ‘unify’ Congress

Donald Trump’s effort to “unify” Congress is continuing to produce a bumper harvest.

For instance, the U.S. House Oversight Committee chairman, Republican Jason Chaffetz of Utah, has called for an investigation into senior White House adviser Kellyanne Conway’s apparent shilling for Ivanka Trump’s line of clothing. Ranking Democratic committee member Elijah Cummings of Maryland joined Chaffetz in seeking to know whether Conway violated federal ethics laws.

The lawmakers sent a letter to the head of the Office of Government Ethics, Walter Shaub, Jr., suggesting that Conway’s appearance on “Fox and Friends” could have crossed the line that bans federal officials from promoting private business endeavors.

Chaffetz and Cummings have recommended punishment for Conway.

Trump, quite naturally, is standing by Conway, who has told the media that the president is “100 percent behind me.”

Ethics just keep getting in the way.

The president’s myriad business interests — along with those of his grown children — are likely to continue dogging the administration until all of the Trumps decide to divest themselves of all that lucrative activity.

Meanwhile, I will give the president a left-handed compliment. He vowed to “unify” the country. He is keeping that pledge by unifying some of our elected representatives — although clearly not in ways he envisioned.