Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), who released the letter from FBI Director James Comey that swung the election to Donald Trump, has been telling lies about William Shaub, director of the Office of Government Ethics (OGE).
His tactics are clearly meant to shield the new Trump administration from scrutiny of its numerous and abiding conflicts of interest.
Emails obtained by the Huffington Post show that Shaub and OGE were waiting on December 8, 2016, but Chaffetz skipped the meeting he had demanded. Huff Post reporter writes:
An OGE staff member emailed the staff director at 1:17 p.m. on Dec. 8 that the office was unsure if a proposed 2:30 p.m. in-person meeting was on or not, but Shaub was available. A half-hour later, another OGE staff member emailed Shaub saying Chaffetz’s office had blamed them for skipping it: ‘Chairman Chaffetz’s scheduler told me: ‘The Chairman requested that I pass on the message that he is disturbed and disappointed that we weren’t able to make this happen.
The OGE staff member seemed confused. He wrote that although OGE had proposed a phone call as opposed to meeting in person, ‘I never once declined an in-person meeting’ and the 2:30 meeting ‘was never declined by us and never taken off of the table.’ A staffer noted that OGE staff waited up on Capitol Hill that day and Chaffetz’s office didn’t pick up the phone.
“I’m sorry to have missed this yesterday,” wrote a Chaffetz staffer in reply to email queries the next day. “We were on the floor with bills/votes and the Chairman’s schedule was backed up with a hard stop for a return flight home.”
But in public, Rep. Chaffetz has accused Shaub of avoiding him and even threatened to use subpoena powers to bring the ethicist to heel.
In a letter dated January 12, Chaffetz summoned Shaub to a closed-door meeting of the House Oversight Committee on Jan. 23, then pointed reporters to the missed meeting as evidence Shaub was being uncooperative.
“He is coming in. This is not going to be an optional exercise,” Chaffetz told reporters last week. He also accused Shaub of “a very aggressive stance on issues he’s never looked at.”
In fact, the OGE says that many Trump appointees have failed to provide adequate information for their ethics reviews, so there are probably many issues they have been unable to consider.
But, facts, morality, and the good of the country have never deterred Chaffetz from political character assassination before.
Mr. Shaub’s only real crime was to call Trump’s plan to deal with conflicts of interest “wholly inadequate.” Chaffetz sent his letter and made his accusations the very next day.
So far, every prominent ethicist to weigh in on the controversy agrees with Shaub that Trump must go much farther to eliminate both the substance and appearance of his ethical conflicts.
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