Ethics, Shmethics: The Culture of Republican Politics

Published on Author MCDC

On the campaign trail, Donald Trump captured American voters’ dissatisfaction with Washington, D.C., in just three words: “Drain the Swamp.” But despite the president-elect’s insistence that he will uphold the catchy campaign pledge, Trump has failed to—or more acutely, refused to—address his sprawling business conflicts of interest while also furnishing his White House with Beltway insiders, billionaires, lobbyists, and Goldman Sachs alumni, effectively flooding the swamp with the same sort of characters he spent 17 months railing against during the presidential race. Now, it seems, the Republican Party is following Trump’s lead and casting aside established ethical standards, too.

Eric Lipton on Twitter

Trump to NYT on his businesses/conflict q’s: “The law’s totally on my side, the president can’t have a conflict of interest.

Proposed by Rep. Robert W. Goodlatte (R-Va.) and defying the wishes of their top leaders, House Republicans cast secret ballots behind closed doors Monday night to rein in the independent ethics office created eight years ago in the wake of a series of embarrassing congressional scandals.

 

The 119-to-74 vote during a GOP conference meeting meant that the House rules package would have been adopted Tuesday, the first day of the 115th Congress, renaming the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) as the Office of Congressional Complaint Review and placing it under the oversight of the House Ethics Committee.

Under the proposed rules, the office couldn’t employ a spokesman, investigate anonymous tips or refer criminal wrongdoing to prosecutors without the express consent of the Ethics Committee (i.e., the targets of the investigation), which would gain the power to summarily end any OCE probe.

Though numerous outlets reported Tuesday morning that Trump had criticized the vote via Twitter, PEOTUS actually did no such thing. In a series of tweets, Trump criticized the timing of the vote—though not the vote itself—and called the ethics commission “unfair.” The tweets offered political cover, giving Trump the chance to play both sides of the fence without coming down hard on either, which is par for the course in Trumpland. The text of Goodlatte’s bill redefines the meaning of the word “brazen”..

Goodlatte OCE Amendment to House Rules

This is amendment to House rules as proposed by Representative Goodlatte, Republican of Virginia. Modest changes were made to this before House Republicans approved this amendment Monday.

Fortunately, the Republicans finally scrapped their plans (for now) on Tuesday, following near-universal outcry lead by Senator Warren..

GOP Backtracks After Elizabeth Warren Shames Them-and Trump-for Secretive Attempt to Scrap Independent Ethics Panel

Update 12:30pm ET: After a morning filled with outcry, Republicans have reportedly rescinded a proposal to strip power from the Office of Congressional Ethics. The outcry was near universal and their offices were flooded with calls. Let this be a lesson to Democrats that they should push back on every Republican overstep with the exact same volume and tenacity for the next four years.