Outgoing ethics chief: ‘We are pretty close to a laughingstock’

The outgoing leader of the federal government's ethics office warns in a new interview of the ethics crisis created by President Trump, saying he thinks the country is "pretty close to a laughingstock."

“It’s hard for the United States to pursue international anti-corruption and ethics initiatives when we’re not even keeping our own side of the street clean. It affects our credibility,” Walter Shaub told The New York Times.

“I think we are pretty close to a laughingstock at this point.”


Shaub said Trump's visits to his family's business properties create "the appearance of profiting from the presidency."

“Misuse of position is really the heart of the ethics program, and the internationally accepted definition of corruption is abuse of entrusted power," he added.

"It undermines the government ethics program by casting doubt on the integrity of government decision making.”

White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters pushed back against Shaub's comments, telling the newspaper he had a "penchant for raising concerns on matters well outside his scope with the media before ever raising them with the White House."

“The truth is, Mr. Schaub is not interested in advising the executive branch on ethics," she added in a statement misspelling his name.

"He’s interested in grandstanding and lobbying for more expansive powers in the office he holds.”

Earlier this month, Shaub submitted his resignation. He will officially step down from the Office of Government Ethics later this week, about six months before the end of his term.

Shaub had previously criticized Trump over his business interests. He said in an interview earlier this month that his recent experiences have convinced him the ethics rules need to be strengthened.

— This report was updated at 12:14 p.m.