Speed Reads


Outgoing ethics director warns the U.S. is 'pretty close to a laughingstock at this point'

Walter M. Shaub Jr., who recently announced his resignation as director of the Office of Government Ethics, warned in an interview with The New York Times published Monday that the country's "credibility" is crumbling under the Trump administration. "It's hard for the United States to pursue international anticorruption and ethics initiatives when we're not even keeping our own side of the street clean. It affects our credibility," Shaub said. "I think we are pretty close to a laughingstock at this point."

Shaub took a swing at President Trump's frequent trips to his family-owned properties, which he said create "the appearance of profiting from the presidency." "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," Shaub said. He has called for "nearly a dozen legal changes to strengthen the federal ethics system," and The New York Times reported that many of these changes he "had not considered necessary before Mr. Trump's election."

The White House responded to Shaub's concerns in a rather snarky statement. "Mr. Schaub's penchant for raising concerns on matters well outside his scope with the media before ever raising them with the White House — which happens to be his actual day job — is rather telling," White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said in a statement to The New York Times, which misspelled Shaub's name. "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."

Shaub's last day as OGE director is Tuesday. Read the story in full at The New York Times.