WASHINGTON — Walter Shaub Jr ., who announced Thursday that he will resign as administrator of the Office of Government Ethics, told CBS News that President Donald Trump‘s businesses present the “appearance” of profiting from his tenure in the White House.
Reporter Julianna Goldman asked Shaub,” Do you think the president and his family are use the office to enrich themselves ?”
” I can’t know what their intention is ,” Shaub answered.” I know that the effects is that there’s an appearing that the businesses are profiting from his filling the presidency. And appearance things as much as reality. So even aside from whether or not that’s actually happening, we need to send a message to the world that the United States is gonna have the gold standard for an ethics program in government, which is what we’ve always had .”
Shaub added that it” nearly doesn’t matter” if the Trump family is or isn’t building financial gains.
” America should have the right to know what the same reasons of its leaders are, and they need to know that financial interests, personal financial interests, aren’t among them ,” he said.
The clip below, which aired Thursday night, is part of a longer interview with Shaub. CBS News will run another section on Friday morning.
Shaub is planning to join the Campaign Legal Center, a nonprofit that works on voting rights and campaign finance issues.
His resignation, effective July 19, recognizes the culmination of a months-long duel between the federal government’s top ethics official and Trump, who once promised to” drain the inundate” of dishonesty in Washington.
In his resignation statement, Shaub appeared to be sending a message to the White House. He quoted federal law, praising ethics officials for their commitment to protecting” the principle that public service is a public trust , involving employees to place patriotism to the Constitution, the laws, and ethical principles above private gain .” Shaub said he was not pressured to resign, according to The New York Times.
The White House said it” accepts Mr. Shaub’s resignation and realizes his service .” The statement added that” the President will be nominating a successor in short order .”
The Office of Government Ethics, which was created in the wake of the Watergate scandal, typically working closely with presidential administrations to resolve possible conflicts of interest. But Shaub, who joined the ethics office as an lawyer during the George W. Bush administration and was appointed director by Barack Obama, struggled to connect with the Trump transition team after the election. At one point, he resorted to sending out a series of desperate-sounding tweets to get Trump’s attention.
Trump announced in January that he would devote control of his business empire to his adult sons, becoming the first president in the modern period to refuse to divest or separate himself from holdings with potential conflicts. Shaub sharply criticized the plan for failed to achieve the standard that” every president of the past four decades has gratified .”
In his CBS News interview, Shaub also addressed the claim by Trump lawyer Sheri Dillon at a January press conference that if Trump sold off his assets, that” would greatly diminish the value of the assets and create a burn marketing .”
” I have no sympathy for that ,” Shaub told CBS.” He’s in a position where he’s going to have to send young men and women to succumb in fighting, potentially, or danger their lives at least. They’re paying a far higher cost. So no, it’s not too much to ask for somebody to incur a bit of a financial loss if they have to sell things off .”
Shaub, whose term was set to end in 2018, persisted in trying to do his chore under the Trump administration, becoming something of an unlikely bureaucratic hero. When White House counselor Kellyanne Conway urged Fox News onlookers to buy products from Ivanka Trump’s fashion line in February — a pitching that seems to flagrantly violate federal ethics rules — Shaub told the White House that disciplinary action was warranted.( The White House didn’t follow his advice .)
Trump also nominated people with enormously complex financial confines to key Cabinet points. Reince Priebus, Trump’s chief of staff, tried to publicly blamed Shaub’s office for the slow rate at which the White House was filling key postures. But Shaub noted that some of the Trump administration’s nominees pushed back against the government’s ethics requirements with ” a ferocity we’ve not previously learnt .”
Another clash with Shaub’s office came after it directed officials in April to release information about ethics waivers that may have been granted to former lobbyists working in the Trump administration. Instead, the White House questioned the OGE’s legal authority to request the information and sought to stay the inquiry.( The OGE does not conduct investigations or have enforcement power .) This action depicted a lengthy replies from Shaub, who declined to suspend the ethics inquiry, calling the request “highly unusual.”
Shaub said that he didn’t believe there was ” much more I could achieve at the Office of Government Ethics, given the current situation ,” according to The New York Times, and that the timing was right for his departure. His new position with the nonprofit group, he reportedly mentioned, will allow him to openly advocate for government ethics reforms.
Trump will have the opportunity to appoint a new OGE director and shape the agency in his image, a move that is sure to difficulty Democrat worried about conflicts of interest in the Trump administration.
This article has been updated with more information about Shaub’s resignation and with his statements to CBS News . em>
Chris D’Angelo contributed to this report . em>