Such hope has been vanishingly rare with this White House. And indeed the OSC only delivered a recommendation on Conway–it’s up the President to decide.
Conway’s case is only the latest in which Trump administration officials have been accused of misbehavior or violating laws and rules. And it’s one of the few where there’s even a suggestion of consequences.
Jones is trying to make it easier for low-quality, for-profit educational institutions — institutions for which she herself has worked — to operate without constraint or quality control from legitimate and qualified accreditation bodies and overseers. If she is successful in overhauling the accreditation system and loosening federal regulations governing oversight, those substandard institutions will enjoy a new ability to rake in money in financial aid–getting rich off the backs of low-income students and others who trust their government agencies to act in their interest.
He faulted Conway for “disparaging Democratic presidential candidates while speaking in her official capacity during television interviews and on social media,” and wrote that “given that Ms. Conway is a repeat offender and has shown disregard for the law, (the office) recommends that she be removed from federal service.”
The quaint days of Jimmy Carter giving up control of his family’s peanut farm to avoid conflicts of interest are clearly long gone.
Some Trump supporters paint his family’s approach as renegade, business-forward, American behavior to admire. This is naïve. It is instead the disruption of the ethics and norms around how our government operates—a government for all the people. Once norms around ethics change, for the office of the presidency and for government agencies, it’s hard to get them back.
There has long been a revolving door between the private sector and the government, with influential politicians leaving public service (as Jones, who worked in the George W. Bush administration, also did) to go work as highly-paid lobbyists or corporate employees, and sometimes later returning. That isn’t great, but there are rules that guide it, aimed at retaining talent and experience and preventing misuse of officials’ enormous influence. But what the Trump team does is of an entirely different order.
Public servants are supposed to serve the public, full stop.
We all understand that if you want to curry favor with someone, paying big money to stay at his hotels and golf on his greens is a good and not particularly subtle way of doing that. This may be acceptable in the swampy world of New York real estate, but one would think that most Americans don’t actually want cash paid to the Trump family business figuring in United States policy making.
This is the reason we want our Presidents and their appointees (and frankly all of our influential politicians) to divest from any family businesses or outside personal income streams while they are in office: They need to make decisions that benefit the entire nation, not ones that might change their bottom line or that of former associates, into whose employ they may wander again.
The Trump family has refused to hold the line on conflicts—to say the least– and the President himself appears to see his office as about service to his country second, and service to himself first. His underlings are acting in kind. As a result, we have an administration largely made up of the underqualified, the ethically challenged and the sycophant set.
The ball is in the President’s court. What do you suppose he’ll do?
No one in this White House is going to fix any of this. It will take Congress to investigate and potentially apply consequences in many of these matters. It will take any Republicans who have not yet entirely sold their souls to this atrocity of an administration to stand against these massive ethical breaches.
And to really solve the problem, it will take Democrats winning the White House in 2020, and restoring measures to prevent something like this from ever happening again.
In the United States, we have been lucky that our leaders have generally abided by unwritten rules and norms around ethical behavior. But that era has ended. It’s time to write the rules down.
This is an emergency. And if Trump does lose re-election, rooting out this new, pernicious normal must be at the top of Democrats’ “To Do” list.