Walter Shaub, the outgoing chief of the Government Ethics Office, has told the New York Times that President Donald Trump has made America the butt of jokes when it comes to ethical standards in government.
“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,” said Shaub of Trump’s assorted scandals, including the president’s use of his office to blatantly promote his own private business interests. “It affects our credibility… I think we are pretty close to a laughingstock at this point.”
Shaub thinks Trump’s repeated trips to his own businesses — most notoriously his weekend jaunts to his Mar-a-Lago resort, as well as most recently one of his golf clubs this past weekend to attend the U.S. Women’s Open tournament — make it look like the office of the presidency is one giant advertisement for Trump’s family enterprises.
“It creates the appearance of profiting from the presidency,” Shaub said. “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.”
In a statement to the Times, the White House dismissed Shaub’s criticism and accused him simply of “grandstanding” to enhance his own reputation.
Shaub announced his resignation earlier this month, and he will formally step down from his position this Wednesday, July 19.