White House counselor Kellyanne Conway insisted Tuesday on Today that House Republicans' vote to strip an independent ethics office's power is not at all at odds with President-elect Donald Trump's pledge to "drain the swamp" of Washington, D.C. Though Conway wasn't able to say whether the new office would be totally independent of Congress, the very body the office is tasked with policing, she was confident the arrangement would solve some existing problems.
For starters, Conway said, the office would "cut down on the overzealousness" the Office of Congressional Ethics has displayed in investigating "consumer complaints." Conway claimed that the OCE, which was created in 2008, has made "100 complaints," though the official tally of complaints the office has forwarded to the House Ethics Committee is actually 68.
While the new office will still allow constituents to make consumer complaints, Conway said those complaints will no longer be allowed to be made anonymously. "Many of these people, members and their staffers who have been under investigation, have complained about their due process rights being violated and being compromised," Conway said. "So they need protections as well." As the process is set up right now, the OCE can release its findings to the public even if the House Ethics Committee decides not to pursue a complaint against a member.
Conway said the full Congress will have a chance to vote on the issue Tuesday. On Monday, House Republicans voted 119-74 in favor of gutting the independent ethics panel.
Catch Conway's full defense of the vote below. Becca Stanek