Walter Shaub, Jr., the head of the Office of Government Ethics, has resigned from this post. In a note on Thursday he said, “the ethics program needs to be stronger than it is.”
He proceeded to give a damning exit interview with CBS News in which he claimed President Trump at least appears to be profiting personally from the presidency.
— CBS Evening News (@CBSEveningNews) July 6, 2017
“Do you think the president and his family are using the office to enrich themselves?” Julianna Goldman of CBS News asked.
“I can’t know what their intention is,” Schaub said. “I know that the effect is that there’s an appearance that the businesses are profiting from his occupying the presidency.”
While he couldn’t confirm or deny such profiteering, Schaub believed that may be an equally big problem. “Appearance matters as much as reality,” he said. “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 gonna have the gold standard for an ethics program in government, which is what we’ve always had.”
When asked if the Office of Government Ethics should know if Trump or his associates actually are profiting from the presidency, he had this to say:
“You can’t be sure, and so it almost doesn’t matter whether they are profiting or not. America should have the right to know what the motivations of its leaders are, and they need to know that financial interests, personal financial interests, aren’t among them.”
In an interview with the New York Times, Shaub said the Trump administration can created a “weak ethics office” which provided him with very little oversight in the role.
Shaub was certain his term would not be renewed by President Trump in January and so he decided to leave and join an advocacy agency, where he thinks he can more effectively push for reforms that might strengthen the power of offices like the one he’s headed for the last four years.
The White House has promised to hire a new ethics officer in “short order.”
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