Resigning ethics director says Trump businesses appear to profit from presidency

Walter Shaub, the leader of the federal government’s ethics office who announced his resignation on Thursday, suggested that Trump-brand businesses are benefiting from Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump directed Cohen to lie to Congress about plans to build Trump Tower in Moscow during 2016 campaign: report DC train system losing 0k per day during government shutdown Senate Republicans eye rules change to speed Trump nominees MORE's presidency.

When asked during a CBS News interview on Thursday whether Trump's businesses were benefiting from his time in office, Shaub said he "can't be sure."

"I can't know what their intention is. I know that the effect is that there is an appearance that the businesses are profiting from his occupying the presidency. And appearance matters as much as reality," Shaub said.

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"So even aside from whether or not that's actually happening, we need to send a message to the world that the United States is going to have the gold standard for an ethics program in government, which is what we’ve always had," he added. “It almost doesn’t matter whether they are profiting or not, America should have the right to know what the motivations of its leaders are.”

Shaub’s letter of resignation to the president did not say explicitly the reasons for his departure, but it praised the Office of Government Ethics for its commitment to “the principle that public service is a public trust, requiring employees to place loyalty to the Constitution, the laws, and ethical principles above private gain.”

Trump clashed repeatedly with Shaub, who told Trump publicly to liquidate his personal business holdings before Inauguration Day.