In U.S. Ethics Chief, An Unlikely Gadfly To Trump : NPR

When the Watergate scandal blew up in the 1970s, one of the things to emerge from its shadow was the Office of Government Ethics. And OGE usually works quietly behind the scenes to make sure that people who run the country have no financial ties that could influence their work.

At its helm is a man named Walter Shaub Jr., a longtime ethics lawyer, who has been at OGE for a decade. And when you ask people about him, Shaub is described as careful, even-keeled, even kind of boring — a government lawyer.

That made it all the more surprising that he was the man who orchestrated a bizarre, Trump-style tweetstorm from OGE, saying things like “Bravo!” and “Brilliant! Divestiture is good for you, very good for America!” — despite Trump’s never promising any such thing.

Under scrutiny

“I was trying to use the vernacular of the president-elect’s favorite social media platform to encourage him to divest,” Shaub explained last week, in another unexpected situation — a 13-minute speech, added at the last minute to an event at the Brookings Institution.

“I wish circumstances were different and I didn’t feel the need to make public remarks today,” he said. “You don’t hear about ethics when things are going well.”

In a steady monotone, Shaub denounced Trump’s plan — to keep ownership of his business empire, but shift management to his sons — as inadequate and meaningless: “The plan the president-elect has announced doesn’t meet the standards that the best of his nominees are meeting and that every president in the past four decades has met.”

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