President Donald Trump has fired two top Inspectors General since Friday, and freely admitted Tuesday he is targeting for firing at least seven of the federal government’s key watchdogs.
The press largely ignored Trump’s brazen admission, but he clearly said Tuesday he intends to “change” out even decades-long veteran Inspectors General, with less-qualified ones loyal to him.
Trump indicates he has reservations about the work of any inspector general who wasn’t appointed by him pic.twitter.com/EClqeCAMx4
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) April 7, 2020
Walter Shaub, who was the Director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, is sounding the alarm bells.
In a lengthy 22-tweet statement Shaub calls Trump’s “assault” on the federal government’s Inspectors General “late-stage corruption,” and he warns that “fascism is eyeing this republic like lunch.”
Shaub points to “open presidential profiteering,” bolstered by “hard-to-prove conflicts of interest” that “were significantly influencing policy.”
He says Trump went through a period of a “growing awareness that many laws don’t have teeth or depend upon the executive branch to enforce them.”
Trump’s firing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions “should have triggered his removal from office. But wild-eyed Senators were hot on the trail of more judges.”
As the corruption grew, “Trump’s hold on the Senate was absolute. We don’t know what assurances he received behind the scenes, but we saw even longtime Republican Senators abandon previously espoused principles to protect him in plain sight.”
“The collapse” of congressional oversight “was a potentially mortal wound” to the Republic.
Trump, his enablers, and his supporters went after whistleblowers and witnesses. The President began to “purge” political appointees, and then even “career Feds, whose due process rights exist to prevent politicians from harnessing them for corrupt aims or, at least, silence any who might report wrongdoing.”
It didn’t matter.
A last line of defense in this war on ethics and law is the Inspector General community. They’re the eyes of the American people, objective investigators traditionally freed to pursue accountability by the safeguard of bipartisan congressional protection./15
— Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) April 8, 2020
What began with the fall of the ethics program is entering the end game with the potential fall of the Inspector General community. The government is failing us, safeguards that took two centuries to build have crumbled, and fascism is eyeing this republic like lunch. /17
— Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) April 8, 2020
It’s down to the people. There is a chance in November to reclaim this land for democracy and reject fascism. But the obstacles are tremendous. Trump has the advantage of incumbency, decades of Republican voter suppression, and a third branch that increasingly seems political./18
— Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) April 8, 2020
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Trump Openly Solicits Payment to US Treasury for His ‘Approval’ of TikTok Sale – Which He Is Forcing
President Donald Trump says he is allowing Microsoft to purchase the U.S. assets of the popular Beijing-based TikTok social media video sharing app, in a sale Trump personally is forcing.
In discussing what he sees as the broad portions of an agreement the President used a real estate term to openly solicit the payment that would have to be made to the U.S. Treasury.
“I said a very substantial portion of that price is going to have to come into the U.S. Treasury of the United States, because we’re making it possible for this deal to happen,” Trump told reporters Monday afternoon.
“Now they don’t have any rights, unless we give it to them,” Trump continued. “If we’re going to give them the rights then it has to come into this country, it’s a little like the landlord-tenant. Without a lease, the tenant has nothing, so they pay what’s called ‘key money’ or they pay something, but the United States should be reimbursed.”
Trump is actively forcing the sale of a foreign-owned company, after announcing he would ban it over the weekend. And now that he’s forcing the sale, he’s saying the U.S. should get a “substantial” cut from the sale of the company – or he will not allow it to go through.
In some states and certain situations, “key money” is illegal.
It is not known if any other U.S. company purchasing a foreign asset or company was ever required to pay what effectively sounds like a bribe.
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) August 3, 2020
Ethics Experts: Ivanka’s Endorsement of Goya Foods – Days After CEO Praises President – Is a ‘Serious Offense’
“Clearly a Violation”
Government ethics experts across the nation are denouncing Ivanka Trump’s late-night endorsement of Goya Foods as a violation of law – and ethics – especially as it comes just days after the company’s CEO appeared on national television in the Rose Garden of the White House to praise President Donald Trump.
“If it’s Goya, it has to be good,” the First Daughter and Senior Advisor to the President tweeted Tuesday night, with the statement repeated in Spanish. In her tweet Ivanka Trump is displaying a can of Goya black beans by holding it with her right hand and suggestively motioning to it with her left, as many do when endorsing a product.
If it’s Goya, it has to be good.
Si es Goya, tiene que ser bueno. pic.twitter.com/9tjVrfmo9z
— Ivanka Trump (@IvankaTrump) July 15, 2020
Walter Shaub, who has become America’s most prominent government ethics expert, weighed in Wednesday morning on Trump’s tweet with a lengthy thread on Twitter. He says her endorsement is “clearly a violation” of federal law.
“Ms. Trump’s Goya tweet is clearly a violation of the government’s misuse of position regulation, 5 C.F.R. § 2635.702. Ms. Trump has had ethics training. She knows better. But she did it anyway because no one in this administration cares about government ethics,” Shaub says.
He supports his call with several facts.
If you tout the company’s product in an obvious response to the backlash the company is facing for the CEO’s remarks about your father-president, you knowingly link your account in people’s minds to your official activities; you create the appearance of official sanction. /4
— Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) July 15, 2020
“There’s a particularly unseemly aspect to this violation,” Shaub adds, noting that “it creates the appearance that the government’s endorsement is for sale. Endorse the president and the administration will endorse your product.”
Shaub, who was the director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics for four and a half years, under President Barack Obama and until July of 2017, under President Trump, is far from the only government ethics expert speaking out.
NBC News Correspondent covering politics and government ethics:
Office of Govt Ethics:
“An employee shall not use his public
office for his own private gain, for the
endorsement of any product, service or
enterprise, or for the private gain of
friends, relatives, or persons with
whom the employee is affiliated”https://t.co/iA6HYvzOOy https://t.co/zpdjFDh6xz
— Heidi Przybyla (@HeidiNBC) July 15, 2020
Political scientist at the Center on American Politics at the University of Denver:
A West Wing employee is advertising a commercial product in return for that company’s CEO having endorsed the President.
People used to get fired for this shit. https://t.co/NbMhl29fXL
— Seth Masket (@smotus) July 15, 2020
Former Senior Adviser to Hillary Clinton and the DNC, former Harry Reid Communications Director:
Yeah…so this is illegal. https://t.co/wXYKdxjwrT
— Zac Petkanas (@Zac_Petkanas) July 15, 2020
Former White House Special Counsel for Ethics and Government Reform, now a Senior Fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution:
5 CFR § 2635.702(c): An employee shall not use…his government position… to endorse any product, service or enterprise.
Her Twitter bio claims account is personal but notes: “Advisor to POTUS.”
This would have been a serious offense in the Obama White House, or any other. https://t.co/SXV6vzuIeC
— Norm Eisen (@NormEisen) July 15, 2020
Swampy Trump Aide Quits After Allegation of ‘Collecting Intelligence’ for Lobbyists via National Security Officials: Report
A mere four months to the day he was announced as the new top Trump White House legislative liaison, Chris Cox is exiting the West Wing. Cox is a veteran GOP lobbyist who had suggested he was, as Politico reported, “collecting intelligence.”
Just one day earlier, in an article titled, “The swamp is coming from inside the (White) House!” Politico reported “Cox told colleagues in the White House that he was seeking information on the executive orders that President Donald Trump was readying to issue so he could brief people downtown — in other words, suggesting he wanted to give lobbyists a sneak peek.”
Politico adds that “Cox suggested while working in the White House that he was collecting intelligence or doing work after speaking to representatives and lobbyists from corporate interests.”
Also among Cox’s alleged actions: “COX emailed with fellow White House aides and officials on the National Security Council, seeking to push along an exemption for Gulfstream to deliver private jets overseas after he had a conversation with General Dynamics’ lobbyist.”
Politico called it “notable to many people at all levels of the White House that he was openly collecting political intelligence for corporate special interests and lobbyists on K Street from deep inside the sanctum of the White House.”
The White House defended Cox’s actions.
“I’m not seeing anything nefarious here,” spokesperson Judd Deere said.
Later, the White House refused to comment. 15 hours later Cox had announced he was leaving.
Politico does not reveal which National Security Council officials Cox was allegedly emailing, nor what their responses were.
Also in question is why Cox (who is not the Chris Cox formerly associated with the NRA,) would be allowed to resign instead of being fired, if the allegations are true.
On March 10 Politico reported on Cox’s hiring, noting his predecessor had left the White House for a job at a lobbying firm.
On January 28, 2017, President Trump signed an executive order banning any executive branch employee from becoming a lobbyist for five years.
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