President-elect Donald TrumpDonald TrumpKinzinger welcomes baby boy Tennessee lawmaker presents self-defense bill in 'honor' of Kyle Rittenhouse Five things to know about the New York AG's pursuit of Trump MORE on Tuesday morning criticized House Republicans for a vote "weakening" Congress's independent ethics watchdog.
"With all that Congress has to work on, do they really have to make the weakening of the Independent Ethics Watchdog, as unfair as it may be, their number one act and priority. Focus on tax reform, healthcare and so many other things of far greater importance!" Trump tweeted, adding the hashtag #DTS — an acronym for drain the swamp, the anti-corruption slogan from Trump’s campaign.
With all that Congress has to work on, do they really have to make the weakening of the Independent Ethics Watchdog, as unfair as it— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 3, 2017
........may be, their number one act and priority. Focus on tax reform, healthcare and so many other things of far greater importance! #DTS— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 3, 2017
House Republicans voted Monday evening to change the rules governing the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE), an independent watchdog agency that the House created in 2008.
The new rules would give the House Ethics Committee oversight of the OCE and address complaints that lawmakers have long had about the office and its operations.
The new rules, passed over the oppositions of Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanOn The Trail: Retirements offer window into House Democratic mood Stopping the next insurrection Former Sen. Bob Dole dies at 98 MORE (R-Wis.) and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), would restrict the OCE from making public statements, allow the House to halt investigations, and stop anonymous reporting, among other things.
Incoming White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer stressed during a conference call with reporters Tuesday that Trump is more concerned about the timing of the move than the substance of the plan.
"He says their focus should be on tax reform and healthcare. It's not a question of strengthening or weakening, it's a question of priorities," Spicer said.
The Democratic Party seized on the distinction, blasting Trump for not speaking out against the House's move.
“To be clear, Donald Trump did not oppose gutting the Congressional ethics watchdog — in fact, he called the office ‘unfair’ and his top advisor defended weakening the program just this morning. Trump just said it was much more urgent for Republicans to pass massive tax cuts for the wealthy and throw as many as 30 million Americans off their health insurance," Democratic National Committee spokesman Eric Walker said in a statement.
"Any comments Donald Trump makes regarding the ethics of public officials must be understood within the context of his own corruption, and taken with a mountain of salt.”
Kellyanne Conway, Trump's incoming White House counselor, downplayed criticism of the Republican move during an interview with MSNBC Tuesday morning.