Rep. Jason Chaffetz, the chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, hasn’t offered even mild criticism of President-elect Donald Trump’s many conflicts of interest. But he’s plenty upset with the federal government’s top ethics watchdog, who called out Trump in an unusually public and critical speech on Wednesday.
Chaffetz has summoned Walter Shaub, the director of the Office of Government Ethics, to the Hill for a closed-door interview, and he’s reminded Shaub that his committee has the power to pull the plug on his agency.
“Your agency’s mission is to provide clear ethics guidance, not engage in public relations,” Chaffetz wrote in a letter to Shaub.
Since Election Day, the OGE has struggled to work with the Trump administration to make sure it’s following ethics rules. Shaub’s growing frustration has spilled out publicly in tweets, in emails released under the Freedom of Information Act, and at a forum on Wednesday, when Shaub called Trump’s plan to step back from his businesses day to day “meaningless from a conflict of interest perspective.”
Chaffetz does have a point that Shaub has been unusually public and vocal about the new administration. But Chaffetz’s main job isn’t to defend the administration from attacks. He’s supposed to serve as a check on the executive branch, particularly holding the presidency accountable — and instead he’s going after a relatively powerless member of the executive branch who is critical of Trump.
The ethics office is trying to hold Trump and his team accountable
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