On Friday, Chuck Schumer condemned Jason Chaffetz’s attempt to bully the ethics watchdog, Director of Office of Government Ethics, Walter Shaub. Schumer called Chaffetz’s “attempt to bully Mr. Shaub out of doing his job are absolutely despicable.”
Chaffetz was far from chastened by the experience and has defended his attacks on Mr. Shaub. He told The Washington Post‘s Jennifer Rubin that he had “deep concerns” during the campaign and called Shaub “unethical,” when it is Trump’s own unethical actions (and failure to act where divestment is concerned) that are the problem.
Chaffetz’s position is that wealth puts you above the law: “The president and vice president are exempt. The voters understood this was a wealthy individual.”
This is untrue. Nobody is above the law, including the president and vice president. Chaffetz breezily waves away concerns about Trump being in in violation of the emoluments clause of the Constitution from day one, pushing Gingrich’s line that the laws that have applied to every other American president shouldn’t apply to Trump because he’s somehow special.
This is the same stance taken by Trump himself. Rubin points out,
Chaffetz’s passivity in the face of well-publicized concerns about the Emoluments Clause stands in stark contrast to his aggressive, self-initiating action during the Obama years. He is not alone. Indeed, the entire Republican House seems entirely uninterested in keeping its promise to act as a check on Trump. The oath they take is to defend the Constitution, an obligation which places on Chaffetz and other Republicans the responsibility to investigate, not sit idly by, if a week from today the president will be in violation of the clear text of the Constitution.
Every Republican seems to have forgotten all the laws they said applied to President Obama, because magically, they somehow no longer seem to apply to a man who is both whiter, and, presumably, richer. We don’t know because Trump won’t release his financials, but that’s what he says.
Kellyanne Conway says we should look at what is in Trump’s heart rather than what comes out of his mouth, but we don’t know what is in Trump’s heart other than from words and actions, and neither create a sense of confidence.
The same can be said of Chaffetz and his fellow Republicans on Congress. It is truly amazing rules and laws that suddenly do not apply because the guy going into the White House is a rich white guy.
In a letter to Chaffetz, a number of organizations, including CREW and Common Cause, raised concerns about his behavior:
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee clearly has jurisdiction over OGE and we do not quibble with the proper exercise of its oversight authority. Nevertheless, we cannot help but be alarmed by a letter that: (1) lacks bipartisan support; (2) unreasonably demands the head of OGE and possibly OGE staff be interviewed during the peak time they are vetting President Elect Trump and his nominee’s ethics forms; (3) does not address the underlying issues of whether President Elect Trump and his nominees are complying with government ethics requirements; and (4) does not meet the reasonable accommodation of holding such an inquiry in public.
This is, as Mother Jones‘ David Corn puts it, an example of Chaffetz’s “Orwellian reality.” Don’t investigate the person behaving unethically but the guy who wants to do his job by investigating the unethical behavior. Not out of any sense of responsibility but only because Chaffetz doesn’t want to see Trump criticized. Even if he’s guilty.
As Evan McMullen has pointed out,
It's the responsibility of Congress to ensure that Trump complies with ethics laws & standards. Currently, he isn't. https://t.co/n9tkLQvfuP
— Evan McMullin (@Evan_McMullin) January 13, 2017
That’s the bottom line, and Republicans will everything in their power to ignore their duties and responsibilities not only to the United States Constitution and the oath they swore, but to the American people who pay their salaries.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.