Reince Priebus’s Scary Warning to Government Ethics Chief to “Be Careful”

Reince Priebus joined Jason Chaffetz’s efforts to silence those sounding the warning against Trump’s ethics violations by telling OGE Director Walter Shaub to “be careful” about criticizing the president-elect.

“The head of the government ethics ought to be careful, because that person is becoming extremely political,” Priebus told ABC’s “This Week.”

“Apparently, may have made a — publicly supported Hillary Clinton as calling out troops with info on Twitter about our — disentangling of the business over a month ago.

“So I’m not so sure what this person at Government Ethics, what sort of standing he has anymore in giving these opinions.”

Which begs the question: if the government’s ethics watchdog has no standing to speak out about ethics violations from the incoming president, who does? There is nothing political here other than Priebus’s attempt to make this not about very real concerns about Trump’s proven lack of ethics but about imagined partisan persecution.

There was nothing revolutionary in Shaub’s words, and the care Republicans ought to be showing would not be a whit more than they demanded of President Obama:

“The plan the president-elect has announced doesn’t meet the standards that the best of his nominees are meeting and that every president in the last four decades have met,” Shaub had said. “Stepping back from running his business is meaningless from a conflict of interest perspective.”

Priebus told George Staphanopolous that it was “incredibly irresponsible” for Lewis to question Trump’s legitimacy, but that only means that Lewis’ is doing what Trump did four years ago, when he sent out these tweets questioning the legitimacy of President Barack Obama:

trump 2012 protest obama

Priebus and his master in Trump Tower are hypocrites of the worst sort, but that’s not the biggest problem. That would be the threat to free speech, the suppression of all dissent, posed by the words of Trump himself, Jason Chaffetz, Newt Gingrich, and now, Reince Priebus.

Republicans don’t want to hear this though they were very careful to press the letter of the law where Obama was concerned. What is being demanded of Trump is no less than has been demanded of any other incoming president in recent history, and Trump’s assertion that he is somehow and uniquely above the law when combined with his autocratic outbursts, is troubling, to say the least.

Donald Trump has spent a lifetime silencing critics and is about to occupy the most powerful bully pulpit in the world, where his thin-skin gives him unprecedented power to punish anyone who speaks out.

Priebus is Trump’s incoming White House chief of staff and this is, therefore, a warning from Trump to those who dare speak out. Priebus’s words must be taken as a dire warning to all others that Trump intends to govern not as a president, but as a dictator.