Threats and intimidation

Ethics? Ethics? The hell with ethics, we like our presidents corrupt.

The Republican chairman of the House Oversight Committee on Thursday issued a stern letter, including a veiled threat of an investigation, to the federal government’s top ethics monitor, who this week had questioned President-elect Donald J. Trump’s commitment to confront his potential conflicts of interest.

In an unusual action against the independent Office of Government Ethics, Representative Jason Chaffetz of Utah accused the office’s director, Walter M. Shaub Jr., of “blurring the line between public relations and official ethics guidance.”

And he of course said this as a purely impartial outside observer.

Mr. Chaffetz, in his letter, noted his committee’s authority to reauthorize the office, a hint that it could perhaps be shut down. “The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is the principal oversight committee of the House of Representatives and may at ‘any time’ investigate ‘any matter’ as set forth in House Rule X,” he wrote.

A spokesman for the Office of Government Ethics did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Mr. Chaffetz asked Mr. Shaub to appear for an interview with the committee’s staff by the end of the month.

Richard W. Painter, who served as an ethics lawyer in the administration of George W. Bush, said that Mr. Chaffetz was apparently trying to punish Mr. Shaub for criticizing Mr. Trump.

“They are strong-arming them,” Mr. Painter said Thursday night after being sent a copy of the letter. “They are obviously very upset the Office of Government Ethics is leaning on Trump and not willing to jam through his nominees. It is political retaliation.”

Only losers care about ethics.

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