After clashing with the White House, top ethics official resigns

The sun rises near the White House on Nov. 8, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty)
The sun rises near the White House on Nov. 8, 2016 in Washington, DC. 

Donald Trump's administration has only existed for about six months, but the number of officials who've resigned in frustration is growing.

In May, for example, Mike Dubke stepped down as the White House's communications director after only a few months on the job. A month later, David Rank resigned from the State Department's Foreign Service, ending a career in U.S. diplomacy that lasted nearly three decades and spanned five presidencies.

Earlier this week, Hui Chen gave up her post at the Justice Department's corporate crime unit, frustrated that the president is ignoring the same standards she demanded of those she investigated for criminal wrongdoing.

Today's resignation, however, is probably the biggest to date.

The ethics watchdog who has badgered the Trump administration for months about conflicts of interest says he is leaving the federal government.Walter Shaub, director of the previously little-known Office of Government Ethics, made a name for himself by criticizing the administration repeatedly, most notably over Trump's refusal to sell his business interests.

Shaub told the Washington Post he wasn't leaving under pressure, adding that no one in the White House or the administration pushed him to resign. He conceded, however, that in this administration, "It's clear that there isn't more I could accomplish," he said.

Shaub, who's term was scheduled to end later this year, will take on a new role at the Campaign Legal Center.

"In working with the current administration, it has become clear that we need to strengthen the ethics program [in government]," he added to the Post.

I don't imagine this White House will be sorry to see Shaub, who started working at the OGE during the Bush/Cheney era, start a new career path. When Trump announced that he wouldn't divest from his business empire, it was Shaub who pushed back. When Kellyanne Conway used her position to encourage the public to buy the president's daughters products, it was Shaub who explained that wasn't acceptable.

When Trump World tried to rely on secret waivers to employ corporate lobbyists at key governmental posts, it was Shaub who fought against the policy.

He will, in other words, be missed at his current post. Shaub officially steps down on July 19.

As for his successor, it will be up to Trump to nominate the new head of the Office of Government Ethics, and that nomination will go to the U.S. Senate for a confirmation vote.