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Outgoing Ethics Chief Says Country Is "Pretty Close To A Laughingstock" Under Trump

The outgoing director of the federal government's ethics office has decided to seize his 15 minutes of fame on his way out the door by sitting down for an interview with the New York Times to warn Americans that President Trump has turned the country into a "laughingstock."

Shaub is apparently most concerned about Trump's visits to his family-owned resorts which he says creates "the appearance of profiting from the presidency."

"It’s hard for the United States to pursue international anti-corruption and ethics initiatives when we’re not even keeping our own side of the street clean. It affects our credibility."

 

"I think we are pretty close to a laughingstock at this point."

 

"Misuse of position is really the heart of the ethics program, and the internationally accepted definition of corruption is abuse of entrusted power."

 

"It undermines the government ethics program by casting doubt on the integrity of government decision making."

Of course, Trump has made repeated trips to his own golf resorts in Florida and New Jersey since moving to Washington D.C. and even refers to Mar-A-Lago as the Winter White House.  In total, he has visited one of his properties on at least 54 days since moving into the White House nearly six months ago, and has also hosted President Xi Jinping of China and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan at Mar-A-Lago.

White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters pushed back against Shaub's comments, telling the New York Times he had a "penchant for raising concerns on matters well outside his scope with the media before ever raising them with the White House."

"The truth is, Mr. Schaub is not interested in advising the executive branch on ethics."

 

"He’s interested in grandstanding and lobbying for more expansive powers in the office he holds."

Meanwhile, and to our complete shock nonetheless, Representative Elijah Cummings of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee intends to pick up on the ethics crusade exactly where Shaub has left off.

There are signs that lawmakers are open to considering the ideas. Representative Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, the new Republican chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said he was preparing to meet with Mr. Shaub. The effort could be a test of what kind of appetite Mr. Gowdy has to challenge the Trump administration as the chairman of what is traditionally the most active oversight committee in Congress.

 

Representative Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, the committee’s top-ranking Democrat, also wants to discuss the ethics office and ways to strengthen it.

 

“I look forward to having a productive conversation with Mr. Shaub and Elijah Cummings before the outgoing director leaves office,” Mr. Gowdy said in a statement in response to questions from The New York Times about possible changes in the authority granted to the office, known as O.G.E. “The discussion will include ways to improve the ethics process and instill confidence in O.G.E.”

 

The Office of Government Ethics has an impossible job under this administration because President Trump has ignored its advice, undermined its authority and openly flouted ethics rules,” Mr. Cummings said in a statement. “Now more than ever, it is important for Congress to act to strengthen O.G.E. and protect its independence.”

To our complete shock, Shaub was appointed by President Obama in 2013 for a 5-year term that was supposed to end next year. 

Shaub also told the New York Times that he's not a fan of Democrats who are suddenly "supportive of the ethics program only as a political tool against this present administration" and that his "goal from the start has been to advance the ethics program, not a political goal."  That said, we do find it interesting that the first thing he does upon resigning his post is to grant an interview to the New York Times...seems to be a tad bit political...but maybe we're just overly cynical.