I’ll concede it’s an obvious joke: upon learning that the chief ethics lawyer in Donald Trump’s White House is resigning, everyone asked, “Donald Trump had a chief ethics lawyer?”
As it turns out, yes, though his office is apparently now empty. Politico reported yesterday:
I’m not in a position to know whether or not the official line on his resignation is true. Schultz told Politico these are “typically year-to-about-18-months-type positions,” and for whatever reason, he didn’t make it a year.
After almost a year in the White House counsel’s office tackling a raft of ethics and financial disclosure issues, James Schultz resigned last week and is returning to private practice at the Philadelphia-based law firm where he previously worked, Cozen O’Connor.
Schultz insists his exit is unrelated to any of those myriad controversies, but simply triggered by a desire to get back to private law work and back to Philadelphia, where his family has remained.
Regardless, while this may sound like another joke, I honestly would love to learn more about what Schultz did all day. Because no matter what one thinks of this president, Donald J. Trump has been at the center of enough ethics controversies to choke a special counsel.
Questions about the president’s approach to the Emoluments Clause and Hatch Act have become ethical hornets’ nests, but that’s really just the start. Trump’s hotel, his golf resorts, his fake “university,” his refusals to disclose, his refusals to divest – if Schultz used his post to warn the president about maintaining the highest ethical standards, it must have been frustrating for him to spend much of 2017 being ignored.