A Handy List (Although He Ran Out of Letters)

Walter Shaub was in charge of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics for 4 1/2 years. He resigned after it was clear our new president had no interest in ethics. Today he listed a few of the president’s offenses:

[By accepting the president’s behavior] Senate Republicans are setting a dangerous precedent that threatens the republic itself. I’m not naive enough to think they would hold Democratic presidents to the low standard they’ve applied to [this bastard], but all future presidents will be able to point to [him] to justify:

a. Soliciting foreign attacks on our elections;

b. Using federal appropriations or other resources to pressure foreign governments to help them win reelection;

c. Implementing an across-the-board refusal to comply with any congressional oversight at all;

d. Firing the heads of the government’s top law enforcement agencies for allowing investigations of the president;

e. Retaliating against whistleblowers and witnesses who testify before Congress;

f. Investigating investigators who investigate the president;

g. Attempting to retaliate against American companies perceived as insufficiently supportive of the president;

h. Attempting to award the president’s own company federal contracts;

i. Using personal devices, servers or applications for official communications;

j. Communicating secretly with foreign leaders, with foreign governments knowing things about White House communications that our own government doesn’t know;

k. Abandoning steadfast allies abruptly without prior warning to Congress to cede territory to Russian influence;

l. Destroying or concealing records containing politically damaging information;

m. Employing white nationalists and expressing empathy for white nationalists after an armed rally in which one of them murdered a counter protester and another shot a gun into a crowd;

n. Disseminating Russian disinformation;

o. Covering for the murder of a journalist working for an American news outlet by a foreign government that is a major customer of the president’s private business;

p. Violating human rights and international law at our border;

q. Operating a supposed charity that was forced to shut down over its unlawful activities;

r. Lying incessantly to the American people;

s. Relentlessly attacking the free press;

t. Spending 1/4 of days in office visiting his own golf courses and 1/3 of them visiting his private businesses;

u. Violating the Emoluments Clauses of the U.S. Constitution;

w. Misusing the security clearance process to benefit his children and target perceived enemies;

x. Drawing down on government efforts to combat domestic terrorism in order to appease a segment of his base;

y. Refusing to aggressively investigate and build defenses against interference in our election by Russia, after the country helped him win an election;

z. Engaging in a documented campaign of obstruction of a Special Counsel’s investigation.

aa. Lying about a hush money payoff and omitting his debt to his attorney for that payoff from his financial disclosure report (which is a crime if done knowingly and willfully).

bb. Coordinating with his attorney in connection with activities that got the attorney convicted of criminal campaign finance violations;

cc. Interfering in career personnel actions, which are required by law to be conducted free of political influence;

dd. Refusing to fire a repeat Hatch Act offender after receiving a recommendation of termination from the president’s own Senate-confirmed appointee based on dozens of violations;

ee. Calling members of Congress names and accusing them of treason for conducting oversight;

ff. Attacking states and private citizens frequently and in terms that demean the presidency (see Johnson impeachment);

gg. Using the presidency to tout his private businesses and effectively encouraging a party, candidates, businesses and others to patronize his business;

hh. Causing the federal government to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars at his businesses and costing the American taxpayers well over $100 million on boondoggle trips to visit his properties;

ii. Hosting foreign leaders at his private businesses;

jj. Calling on the Justice Department to investigate political rivals;

kk. Using the presidency to endorse private businesses and the books of various authors

ll. Engaging in nepotism based on a flawed OLC opinion;

mm. Possible misuse of appropriated funds by reallocating them in ways that may be illegal;

nn. Repeatedly criticizing American allies, supporting authoritarian leaders around the world, and undermining NATO; and

oo. etc.

… This is only what [he] did while the remote threat of Congressional oversight existed. If the Senate acquits him, he will know for certain there is nothing that could ever lead to Congress removing him from office.

Unquote.

Assuming he’s acquitted, he’ll know he can get away with even more. In other words, stay away from Fifth Avenue.

Who Says Republicans Don’t Have a Sense of Humor?

Example 1:

“House Republicans have found a subject for their opening review of conflicts of interest under Donald Trump: the federal official in charge of investigating conflicts of interest.”

Yes, the Republican chairman of the House Oversight Committee, Jason Chaffetz of Utah, is mad at the head of the Office of Government Ethics for pointing out (as both Democratic and Republican ethics lawyers agree) that the President-elect’s “plan” to avoid his many, many conflicts of interest is “meaningless”. There are hysterical details here. 

Last night, I found the ethics official’s explanation of his negativity at the Office of Government Ethics site. It was a four-page PDF file, but the lawyer who wrote it isn’t nearly as funny as Rep. Chaffetz. Unfortunately, the link isn’t working at the moment (because of heavy traffic or those madcap Russians). But maybe it will work for you.

In a related, even more priceless development, Rep. Chaffetz announced a few days ago that he plans to keep investigating Hillary Clinton’s emails! This lovable scamp Chaffetz is relentless!

Yet:

When asked about T__p’s potential business conflicts, [chairman Chaffetz] noted that the law‎ exempts the president of the United States, calling the push from Democrats to launch a committee investigation on T__p’s business ties “premature at best.” [CNN]

I suppose “premature at best” implies “totally ridiculous at worst”!

best-dad-jokes

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All right, now that I’ve recovered my composure…

Example 2:

It might seem like yesterday, but it was almost seven years ago that America’s first step toward universal healthcare became law. It was officially called the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, but rapidly became known as Obamacare. The law included many (in fact, mostly) conservative ideas, but in the end not one Republican Senator voted for it. In fact, Republicans immediately began calling for the law’s repeal.

Now that the Republicans control Congress and are about to occupy the White House, they’re beginning the effort to repeal the ACA, but questions are being raised, even by Republicans. Should the law be repealed in toto, which would mean taking health insurance away from millions of people, including lots of Republican voters? Or should it be left in place until the law’s terrific right-wing replacement is all ready to go? 

Since they’ve had seven years to think about it, they must have something wonderful (“My God, it’s full of stars!”) waiting in the wings. So here’s what happened last night at Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s nationally-televised “town hall”.

From the GQ site:

The event began with a question from a polite, middle-aged gentleman named Jeff Jeans, a small-business owner:

“I was a Republican, and I worked for the Reagan and Bush campaigns. Just like you, I was opposed to the Affordable Care Act. When it was passed, I told my wife we would close our business before I complied with this law. Then, at 49, I was given six weeks to live with a very curable type of cancer. We offered three times the cost of my treatment, which was rejected. They required an insurance card. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, I’m standing here today, alive. Being both a small businessperson [and] someone with preexisting conditions, I rely on the Affordable Care Act to be able to purchase my own insurance. Why would you repeal the Affordable Care Act without a replacement?”

Chuckling nervously like a local-news anchor who suddenly lost his teleprompter feed, Ryan began explaining to Jeans that his party in fact does have a proposal—it’s just a secret one that he still hasn’t shared with his colleagues. Jeans, however, still needed to twist the knife.

RYAN: We wouldn’t do that. We want to replace it with something better. First of all, I’m glad you’re standing here! I mean, really, seriously, I—

JEANS: Can I say one thing? I hate to interrupt you.

RYAN: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

JEANS: I want to thank President Obama from the bottom of my heart, because I would be dead if it weren’t for him.

Seeking further information, I was led to a site called “A Better Health Care Plan”. It’s run by a bunch of Republicans who call themselves the “American Action Network”. The first thing you see is a link to a YouTube video: “A New Path Forward”. Here’s the video’s entire script: 

Imagine a new path forward. Health insurance that provides more choices and better care at lower costs. A system that puts patients and doctors in charge, provides peace of mind to people with pre-existing conditions, and paves the way for new cures by eliminating senseless regulations. House Republicans have a plan to get there without disrupting existing coverage, giving your family the health care they deserve.

You’re then invited to visit the very site you’re on, “A Better Health Care Plan”, for further information. And here it is: 

House Republicans have a plan to get there

Our Congress is fighting for us: lowering costs, providing more control and more choices to pick a plan that meets our needs, not a plan that Washington mandates.

That’s all the further information provided. In toto.

Now who doesn’t think Republicans have a terrific sense of humor? 

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