Fmr. Ethics Director: The President Is In Late-Stage Of “An Authoritarian Coup”

Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour / Public Domain


Former ethics director Walter Shaub asserts that Trump has been launching an attack on American ethics.

Walter Shaub, the former director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, wrote an op-ed for USA Today earlier this year that proclaims that “Trump's unfettered attacks on accountability are a life-and-death crisis for democracy”. Shaub had quit his post in protest halfway through President Donald Trump’s first year in office. He couldn’t stomach the administration’s flagrant disregard for ethics rules.

The op-ed details Trump’s attack on accountability; firing any official who stood up to him, his “open presidential profiteering”, and his dismissal of watchdogs to oversee huge financial decisions.

His dismissal of FBI Director James Comey and Attorney General Jeff Sessions was carried out simply because the law enforcement officials questioned Trump and his motives; an act which has shown to almost always end in being fired. He likens Trump’s management of his staff to his former reality show, The Apprentice.

“Only the most slavishly obedient appointees would survive,” he continues.

“The Sessions firing should have triggered Trump’s removal from office, but wild-eyed senators were hot on the trail of confirming conservative judges.”

He writes that Trump didn’t really have any oversight at all until 2018 when Democrats gained a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives. But his hold on the Senate is absolute, he says, and that’s evident in his impeachment acquittal.

Shaub points out that Trump is now attacking the last line of defense for American ethics: the “inspector general community”. Inspector generals are within each executive branch agency and are assigned to audit the agency's operation. They sniff out misconduct, launch investigations on people manipulating the resources of the government, and call out wrongdoing. It’s only natural that Trump would throw himself into discrediting these bipartisan officials. He’s shown distaste towards any bipartisan entity. His mindset is that of 'if they’re not with me, they’re against me.'

“Authoritarianism is eyeing this republic like lunch,” Shaub states. He also reiterates that, though things look grim, the November elections could be our turning point back to the institutions that took Americans decades to build. But getting Trump out of office cannot, and will not, be a passive process:

“The obstacles are tremendous,” Shaub warns. “Trump has the advantages of incumbency, decades of Republican voter suppression, and a third branch that increasingly seems political. A sign of things to come, the Supreme Court ramped up the voter suppression by sending Wisconsin voters into a war zone in our species’ fight against an ancient enemy: disease. A global pandemic has ground America to a halt, complicating the upcoming presidential election.”

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