Senior White House counselor Kellyanne Conway violated ethics rules twice last year, marking her three times for breaking the same rule, according to a government ethics office.
It was one of several data-points this week showing again that President Donald Trump isn’t draining the swamp so much as he famously promised to do, like flooding it. Or give it a gilding in your image. Frankly, new and sometimes new stories of violation of moral norms and rules are emerging very fast; I wrote again on Friday and Monday morning about the way Trump and his administration are abusing their public offices and these new examples have emerged since I filed the latter column.
Make the right move and welcome to Donald Trump’s carnival of corruption.
First is Conway. The US Office of Special Counsel (not to be confused with the office of Special Counsel Robert Mueller) released a report Tuesday calling for “disciplinary action” against Conway for “disciplinary action.”[ing] Official government business with political views about candidates in Alabama special [Senate] election” which took place in December. Under the Hatch Act, federal employees are prohibited from engaging in political activities from their official positions, but Conway did the same, according to Special Counsel Henry Kerner, attacking the Democratic senatorial candidate. Going out of his way to elect (and eventual winner) Doug Jones in television interviews twice.
She appeared on “Fox and Friends” on November 20 and CNN’s “New Day” on December 5 and spoke about the Alabama Senate race (without asking about it in a prior appearance), according to Kerner in her dispatch. was beyond. , (It’s the third clear moral violation from Conway in the White House, who last spring whipped up Ivanka Trump’s clothing line on television.)
And here’s an important fact: After her Fox News appearance, she received two separate warnings about not violating the Hatch Act. In the first case, the White House attorney’s office on the day of her Fox & Friends appearance “due to Hatch Act concerns raised by her interview and again providing her with Hatch Act guidance”; Then the attorney’s office emailed Conway and other White House officials a Hatch Act reminder the day before her CNN appearance. (These were the fifth and sixth instances where they received individual or group guidance about legislation since taking over the administration.)
cartoon on president donald trump
MORE: Conway simply ignored the special counsel’s office when he asked her to respond to allegations of Hatch Act violations, though the White House counsel’s office defended her appearance to Kerner. (The attorney’s office also promised that she would respond, which she did not.)
So what? The fact that she was directly warned about violating the Hatch Act anyway indicates a level of confidence that she may be violating the law. What else to guess: Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley released Statement saying on Tuesday that the White House doesn’t think Conway did anything wrong. No wonder: The administration flouted the independent investigator’s decision.
In contrast, Julian Castro, when the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Barack Obama breached the act in July 2016, took ownership of the administration for the violation, acknowledged it was a mistake and promised to ensure that it will not happen again. Richard Painter as President George W. Bush’s ethics chief put it on twitter About Conway: “In any other White House, a single major ethics violation would result in a dismissal. This is his third, and all three within the same year. He needs to leave.”
And Conway isn’t alone. The Washington Post’s Philip Bump lists five other Trump appointees who have had run-ins with the Hatch Act. “If all this sounds confusing: fair enough,” he writes. “So the Office of Special Counsel provides training for administration officials about where the legal lines lie.”
But of course all the training in the world won’t matter if the administration is going to ignore the law when it decides whether someone will be disciplined for it. “The Hatch Act is either an enforceable statute or it is not,” MSNBC’s Joy-Ann Reed tweeted, “Trump is again testing the proposition that the laws don’t matter as long as he is president.”
And yet it didn’t come close to being the only curious tale of moral adventure from the Trump administration. The Associated Press reported that a pair of Trumps at the Environmental Protection Agency have gotten exemptions for doing paid work for outside clients. Which clients will supplement the income of these direct public servants? The AP’s Michael Biseker reports, “The names were blacked out by the agency before a copy was provided to Congress, a secrecy commonly used to protect personnel records and medical files.” citing exemptions.” One of the officers, John Konkas, deputy associate administrator for public affairs, last spent fleeting moments in the spotlight when he was placed in an unusual position—given his position as a political appointee with little apparent background in environmental science— The agency distributes funding for vetting grants. Juliet Alperin of the Washington Post reported that Concus told EPA staff he was looking for the “double C-word” of climate change.
Concus is starting out with two mystery clients, with the hope of taking on others. I know Trump’s EPA isn’t really that much into doing stuff, but isn’t deputy associate administrator a full-time job anymore? He has promised that he will avoid conflicts of interest with these mysterious customers, as will likely Patrick Davis, a senior adviser at the EPA’s Denver regional office, who will serve as director of sales for the telephone town hall meeting. Call me upset, but I don’t think anyone in this administration has the credibility to speak out on such things.
“It’s Crazy,” Former Obama Ethics Czar Norm Eisen tweeted, “At the Obama White House, I kicked people out of nonprofit nonprofit outside positions because of the risks of conflict. It’s for-profit work that could conflict with official duties.” Eisen tied it all together on TwitterWriting that “the 2 big morality stories of the day are concerning. The EPA turned a blind eye to the appointee’s risk of conflict, and now we’re waiting to see what happens with Trump.” [sic] Do the same w/ Kellyanne. If he doesn’t fire her, his message will be that the law doesn’t matter.”
(And a key point from The Washington Post’s Paul Waldman: “At this point, my conservative friends are saying, ‘What about Huma Abedin?’ To which I would respond, when it was reported in 2013. You were absolutely right to be annoyed. That in her final few months at the State Department, a longtime Hillary Clinton aide was approved to work together for the Clinton Foundation and a consulting firm run by a former Clinton aide.” )
But wait – there’s a third EPA Ally Working Outer: Democratic Sense. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Tom Carper of Delaware EPA administrator Scott Pruitt wrote Tuesday According to the letter, to ask about Pasquale “Nino” Perrotta, “who lists himself as an ‘acting special agent’ in the EPA and has traveled with Pruitt on several occasions as part of his protective detail.” Has been, and is also the principal and founder at Sequoia Security Group; his business partner at Sequoia reportedly received a counter-surveillance contract from the EPA to sweep Pruitt’s office for hearing devices. How convenient
Everything definitely flows from above. If Trump aides are feeling empowered to make extra bucks while in office, this is a piece with a culture where the top dog is being eroded away from public trust in a very high-profile way.
ProPublica, citing the latest example over the weekend, reported that “The Trump Organization has ordered the manufacture of new tee markers for golf courses that are embellished with the seal of the President of the United States. Under federal law, the seal can only be used for official purposes.” Government business is allowed. Misuse can be a crime.” In fact, under the previous administration from both sides, a warning has been given to prevent outside traders from using the seal.
This time apparently meeting the same end received less official attention: Presidential seal markers have been removed from the Trump golf course, ProPublica reported Tuesday. “In honor of President’s Day, plaques were presented to the club by a small group of members who are incredible fans of the President. [sic] weekend,” the Trump organization said in a statement to ProPublica. “They were temporary and have since been removed.” well i guess it’s okay if they are Incredible President’s fan.
The Wall Street Journal’s Joe Palazzolo and Michael Rothfeld provided new details on Monday about Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen paying porn star Stormy Daniels to stop talking about him. “Affair with Trump in the Early Days of Campaigning” Mr. Cohen said he missed two deadlines earlier that month to pay Ms. Clifford $130,000 because he could not reach Mr. Trump in the busy final days of the presidential campaign could reach,” he writes, “citing an acquaintance.” As noted by the Post’s Aaron Blake, while it was widely believed that Cohen was acting on Trump’s behalf, it was There is a solid link establishing such foreknowledge. It would strengthen the case if it is proven $130,000 was an illegal and illegally coordinated campaign contribution.