Government Ethics Director, Who Repeatedly Clashed With Trump, Resigns

Walter Shaub, an attorney and the director of the government’s ethics office who regularly clashed with President Trump over his business interests, submitted his resignation on Thursday. He is leaving his office nearly six months before the end of his term. Shaub's last day as the head of the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) will be on July 19, according to his resignation letter to Donald Trump which he posted on his Twitter account.

“The great privilege and honor of my career has been to lead OGE’s staff and the community of ethics officials in the federal executive branch,” Shaub wrote. “They are committed to protecting the principle that public service is a public trust, requiring employees to place loyalty to the Constitution, the laws, and ethical principals above private gain.... I am grateful for the efforts of this dedicated and patriotic assembly of public servants, and I am proud to have served with them,” the letter closes.

Schaub, who started his tenured during the George W. Bush administration, had served as OGE director under both Republican and Democratic presidents, and his term was set to end in just under 6 months in January 2018. 

Shaub has been sharply critical of Trump's approach to ethics compliance since the election. The battle began in late November when the ethics office began issuing a series of tweets that mimicked Trump's style, exclaiming: "Brilliant! Divestiture is good for you, good for America!"  Then on Jan. 11, shortly before Inauguration Day, Shaub spoke out at the Brookings Institution, causing a stir when he said Trump's plan for avoiding conflicts of interest "doesn't meet the standards that the best of his nominees are meeting and that every president in the past four decades has met."

According to The Hill, Shaub will go to the Campaign Legal Center (CLC), a non-profit focused on political and election law, to head up its ethics practice.

Shaub took the opportunity to send out a thinly veiled shot at Trump, with whom he had routinely tangled over the appearances of conflicts of interest.

“In working with the current administration, it has become clear to me that we need improvements to the existing ethics program. I look forward to working toward that aim at Campaign Legal Center, as well as working on ethics reforms at all levels of government,” Shaub said in a statement released by the center on Thursday.

He doubled down on Thursday morning, telling NPR that, "the current situation has made it clear that the ethics program needs to be stronger than it is. At the Campaign Legal Center, I'll have more freedom to push for reform. I'll also be broadening my focus to include ethics issues at all levels of government."

He did not elaborate on what is so wrong with the "current situation", although we are confident he will do so as soon as he is no longer part of the government bureaucracy.  Shaub also clarified that he had not been pressured out of his current position.

The Campaign Legal Center is helmed by Trevor Potter, a former Republican chairman of the Federal Election Commission.

“It’s imperative that we sustain a culture of high ethical standards in our government,” Potter said in a statement. “Walt, in serving the American public at the OGE under three presidents, has demonstrated the highest level of professionalism and integrity. All of us at CLC are thrilled to have him join us in our continuing work to protect and improve our democracy.” It is unclear if Shaub will also moonlight as an honorary member of the "Trump resistance" currently headed by Preet Bharara, Sally Yates and others.