Trump will pick his own ethics chief after top official gives up

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    Donald Trump made it clear at the beginning of his campaign that he wasn’t going to follow the normal rules or tone of politics. We’re keeping track of all the ways his presidency veers from the norm in terms of policy and rhetoric.

    Walter Shaub, Jr., the head of the Office of Government Ethics, announced his resignation Thursday, claiming that “the ethics program needs to be stronger than it is.” He proceeded to give a blistering exit interview with CBS News, hours after he called it quits, saying President Trump at least appears to be profiting personally from the presidency.

    .@waltshaub says America should have the right to know the motivations of its leaders https://t.co/BRox4Ua5Mw pic.twitter.com/EGFMmZNDz0

    — CBS Evening News (@CBSEveningNews) July 6, 2017

    “Do you think the president and his family are using the office to enrich themselves?” Julianna Goldman of CBS News asked.

    “I can’t know what their intention is,” Schaub said. “I know that the effect is that there’s an appearance that the businesses are profiting from his occupying the presidency.”

    The absence of real information creates at least the appearance of impropriety. “Appearance matters as much as reality,” he said. “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.”

    But shouldn’t the Office of Government Ethics know if Trump or his associates actually are profiting from the presidency?

    “You can’t be sure, and so it almost doesn’t matter whether they are profiting or not,” said Shaub. “America should have the right to know what the motivations of its leaders are, and they need to know that financial interests, personal financial interests, aren’t among them.”

    Shaub said in an interview with the New York Times that, faced with an adversarial Trump administration and a weak ethics office, there was little that he could do in his role. The office, created by Congress in the wake of Watergate, has terms meant to overlap presidents to avoid politicization of the office. Shaub, whose term was to end in January, was nearly certain his term wouldn’t be renewed, so he’s leaving for an advocacy agency, where he thinks he can more effectively push for reforms that might strengthen the power of offices like the one he’s headed for the last four years.

    President Donald Trump now has the opportunity to appoint a new head for the ethics office, which the White House said he would do “in short order.”

    At a press conference in Warsaw, Poland, a day before he was set to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump said Russia may have interfered in the U.S. election, though “other countries,” which he didn’t specify, could have been involved as well.

    “Nobody really knows. Nobody really knows for sure,” he added.

    Despite a rare consensus within the U.S. intelligence community that Russia did, in fact, interfere with the U.S. election (and an ongoing investigation into whether Trump campaign officials helped), the president has consistently denied that Russia did anything wrong and decried the probe as a “witch hunt.”

    Oh, except for that one time he acknowledged Russia’s activity in a Twitter dig at President Obama.

    Just out: The Obama Administration knew far in advance of November 8th about election meddling by Russia. Did nothing about it. WHY?

    The gender pay gap in President Donald Trump’s White House is even worse than the national gender pay gap was three decades ago.

    After the White House released its annual report on the title and salary of every single White House Office staffer Friday, CNN quickly pointed out the stark difference between the average salaries: Women staffers make an average of $84,500 per year, while male staffers make an average of $105,000 per year. That’s about a 20 percent pay gap.

    And that gap only increases when comparing median salaries, the more statistically accurate metric used by nearly all reports on pay differences. According to an analysis by Mark Perry, an economist at conservative think tank the American Enterprise Institute, women currently working at the White House earn a median salary of $72,650, while men make $115,000.

    That’s almost a 37 percent pay difference — which is not only 20 percentage points worse than the national pay gap of 17 percent but also worse than the national pay gap back in 1980. It’s also far worse than the 12 percent pay gap between men and women in the Obama White House in 2013.

    Perry, however, has an explanation for the pay difference that’s not much more comforting: Trump just isn’t hiring women to fill top positions.

    “Of the top 101 highest-paid employees at the White House, nearly three out of four (73.3 percent) are men,” he writes in his report. “In contrast, of the 102 lowest-paid White House employees, nearly six out of 10 (59.2 percent) are female.”

    Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump meets with Cuban-American community leaders at Trump National Doral golf club in Miami, Florida, U.S. October 25, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst - RTX2QE1E

    We all know how much President Trump loves to tweet, and that he has a short attention span.

    That’s why White House aides reportedly plan to prep the president for his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G-20 summit on Friday in 140-character bites. They’ve written a list of “tweet-length sentences that summarize the main points” for the president, two unnamed U.S. officials told the Los Angeles Times.

    This isn’t the first unusual tactic White House officials have used to encourage the president to read and retain information presented to him on complex scenarios. For example, National Security Council officials reportedly put Trump’s name in “as many paragraphs as we can because he keeps reading if he’s mentioned,” one source told Reuters.

    And Trump specifically asked for as many “killer visuals” as possible in his intelligence briefings, as CIA chief Mike Pompeo put it to the Washington Post.

    Although White House aides are reportedly completely in the dark (and worried) about Trump will say to Putin, a number of sensitive topics could come up: U.S. military intervention in Syria, sanctions against the Kremlin, and of course, the investigation into Russian meddling in the U.S. election — and whether Trump campaign officials helped.

    But at least Trump has had some practice distilling his thoughts on Russia.

    Do you think Putin will be going to The Miss Universe Pageant in November in Moscow – if so, will he become my new best friend?

    "@bluestarwindow: @realDonaldTrump @bdean1468 Putin knows that Obama is a danger to the world. Putin will respect President Trump" True!


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