House Republicans agreed behind closed doors last night to gut their own ethics rules. In a couple
this morning, Donald Trump pushed back a bit -- against the timing of the GOP's move.
"With all that Congress has to work on, do they really have to make the weakening of the Independent Ethics Watchdog, as unfair as it may be, their number one act and priority. Focus on tax reform, healthcare and so many other things of far greater importance!"
I've seen this characterized as a sharp "rebuke" from the president-elect, directed at members of his own party, but I think that probably overstates matters. Taking his words at face value, Trump actually endorsed the GOP line -- he referred to the Office of Congressional Ethics as "unfair" -- but suggested Republicans tackle other priorities first.In other words, his problem is with the timing of the anti-ethics push, not the policy itself. Trump cares about the order
of the Republican's actions -- because of their potential public-relations impact-- instead of the actions on the merits.The president-elect's take came just a couple of hours after one of his top aides made the opposite argument. Politico reported
The move by Republicans in Congress to gut the independent Office of Congressional Ethics will cut down on "overzealousness," incoming counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway said Tuesday morning, while leaving in place a "mechanism" with which to address ethical complaints.Although Conway stopped short of saying the GOP move came with the blessing of the president-elect, she told ABC's "Good Morning America" that Republican majorities in the House and Senate mean "there's a mandate there for them to make significant change."
It was the second time in 12 hours
that Trump and Conway delivered contradictory messages to the public.As I type, House Republicans are holding an emergency meeting to decide what to do about this fiasco.The era of GOP domination is off to a great start, isn't it?