Purveyor of Truth
Republican congressional critters moving to gut the congressional ethics watchdog really should come as no surprise. Less oversight of their dubious activities is just what the authoritarians would desire, yes?
The move by Republicans in Congress to gut the independent Office of Congressional Ethics will cut down on “overzealousness,” incoming counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway said Tuesday morning, while leaving in place a “mechanism” with which to address ethical complaints.
Although Conway stopped short of saying the GOP move came with the blessing of the president-elect, she told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that Republican majorities in the House and Senate mean “there's a mandate there for them to make significant change.” She said she had not spoken to President-elect Donald Trump about the move.
“Let's make clear that you're still going to have an Office of Complaint Review. In other words, it’s not like we’re taking away everything,” Conway told “Good Morning America” anchor George Stephanopoulos. “Look, there's a very ambitious agenda to push forward. The Republicans have been given the majority in the House and the Senate, most of the governorships, they've won over 1,000 state legislative seats under President Obama's watch. So there's a mandate there for them to make significant change.”
House Republicans voted Monday night during a closed-door meeting to dramatically cut back the powers of the Office of Congressional Ethics, which would put the currently-independent watchdog under the control of the very lawmakers it is supposed to police. The plan, proposed by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), would give the office a new name, the Office of Complaint Review, and would "provide protection against disclosures to the public or other government entities," essentially keeping secret any accusations against members of Congress. The proposal would also bar the restructured office from considering anonymous tips.
Then president elect Donald J. Trump weighed in with this.
With all that Congress has to work on, do they really have to make the weakening of the Independent Ethics Watchdog, as unfair as it may be, their number one act and priority. Focus on tax reform, healthcare and so many other things of far greater importance!
Note Trump's criticism was really aimed at the timing of the GOP efforts to gut the Office of Congressional Ethics, not that doing so was ill advised and should not be done. Typical Trump modus operandi. Note what The Washington Post had to say.
This statement is a neat little trick. It allows Trump to at once: (a) Claim that he was critical of the decision to rein in the independent Office of Congressional Ethics, and (b) Sympathize with the members who view themselves as having legitimate beefs with the office by allowing that it might be "unfair."
Some media outlets will cover it as Trump repudiating the move by House Republicans, but that's not really what he's saying. In fact, Trump isn't really saying much of anything here. He's not saying what House Republicans did was wrong; he's saying it was mis-prioritized. And he's not endorsing its actions either, but he's allowing that the office might have been unfair. It's choose your own adventure.
Update: And sure enough, incoming White House press secretary Sean Spicer says Trump's beef isn't with what House Republicans did, but rather the timing. "[Trump] says that their focus should be on tax reform, health care and so many other things of greater and far more importance," Spicer said on a conference call. "It's not a question of strengthening or weakening."
And now, if House Republicans reverse course, he can claim credit for making it happen. But if they don't, he's agreed with them that the office is unfair and they're not technically running afoul of him. Win-win.
Apparently ethics in government is not all that important to Trump. Winning IS, period.