President Donald Trump’s administration has admitted that a “reasonable person” is likely to “question the integrity” of White House operations after a controversial ethics waiver was granted to former Fox News co-president Bill Shine.
Shine, who was hired after the departure of Hope Hicks, is the fifth person to hold the title of communications director in the Trump White House.
White House counsel Don McGahn wrote in a July 13 memo that exempting Shine from federal ethics rules was “in the public interest,” The Daily Beast reported Monday.
“The Administration has an interest in you interacting with Covered Organizations such as Fox News,” McGahn wrote in the memo. “[T]he need for your services outweighs the concern that a reasonable person may question the integrity of the White House Office’s programs and operations.”
“I have determined that it is appropriate and in the public interest,” McGahn wrote in permitting Shine’s meetings with Fox News.
Top White house economist Larry Kudlow has also received a similar waiver, along with eighteen other staff members. Federal agencies have also granted ethics waivers.
“Early in the administration, after The Daily Beast questioned the propriety of then-White House chief strategist Steve Bannon’s communications with employees of Breitbart News, the pro-Trump outlet he led before and after his White House tenure, the White House issued a blanket ethics waiver allowing all senior West Wing appointees to freely communicate with the press,” The Beast reported. “That move was widely seen as an effort to retroactively cover Bannon for previous meetings that would’ve otherwise run afoul of ethics rules—a move that may itself have constituted a violation of those rules.”