After Donald Trump announced his non-plan to separate himself from his businesses on Wednesday, Office of Government Ethics (OGE) Director Walter Shaub slammed the president-elect’s “inadequate” steps in an unprecedented speech at the Brookings Institution, calling Trump’s plan “meaningless” and “wholly inadequate.”
Shaub said Trump’s failure to fully separate himself from his company and profits drove him to come forward and speak out.
“I wish circumstances were different and I didn’t feel the need to make public remarks today,” he said. “You don’t hear about ethics when things are going well. You’ve been hearing a lot about ethics lately.”
In his speech, the director of the non-partisan office criticized Trump for breaking the decades-long tradition carried out by presidents of both political parties.
“[Trump’s] plan does not comport with the tradition of our Presidents over the past 40 years. This isn’t the way the Presidency has worked since Congress passed the Ethics in Government Act in 1978 in the immediate aftermath of the Watergate scandal,” he said. “We can’t risk creating the perception that government leaders would use their official positions for profit.”
Shaub took specific aim at Trump’s plan to give his sons “complete and total control” over his business:
I think Politico called this a “half-blind” trust, but it’s not even halfway blind. The only thing this has in common with a blind trust is the label, “trust.” His sons are still running the businesses, and, of course, he knows what he owns. His own attorney said today that he can’t “un-know” that he owns Trump tower. The same is true of his other holdings. The idea of limiting direct communication about the business is wholly inadequate. That’s not how a blind trust works. There’s not supposed to be any information at all.
The director said the only way Trump can fully convince the American people that he won’t be acting in his own self-interest is to fully divest.
“Nothing short of divestiture will resolve these conflicts,” he said.
As Politico noted today, Shaub’s speech “sets up the incoming administration for constant controversy.”
Ultimately, Trump’s laughable proposal is just the latest evidence that he isn’t serious about the job he’ll officially hold in just nine days. Instead of focusing on “making America great again,” Trump seems more concerned about his own financial wellbeing.
As a result, the president-elect – and the rest of the country – will likely spend much of the next four years distracted by controversy instead of addressing the multitude of challenges we face.
Sean Colarossi currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and was an organizing fellow for both of President Obama’s presidential campaigns. He also worked with Planned Parenthood as an Affordable Care Act Outreach Organizer in 2014, helping northeast Ohio residents obtain health insurance coverage.