I do have some good news about government ethics tonight. The first is this amazing document the White House just issued, commanding that White House appointees abide by a set of restrictions on communications with federal agencies. This is a great thing.
whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/…
This puts guardrails in place to prevent some of the worst abuses of the last administration. It is a very important tone-setting document, which is crucial in government ethics. As I've often said, tone from the top is everything.
whitehouse.gov/wp-content/upl…
It serves another purpose too. It's stated goals are to ensure "the integrity of government decision making" and "public confidence that decisions by government officials are made based on appropriate considerations"
whitehouse.gov/wp-content/upl…
You know I haven't been shy about criticizing this White House when I have concerns, so believe me when I say that I am extremely pleased to see this document!

And it's not the only good news tonight . . .
DOJ has issued a document creating further guardrails. It restricts "contact with the White House as a firewall against potential political interference." That's an important step in shifting away from the legacy of Barr's politicization of justice.
usatoday.com/story/news/pol…
This is 180 degrees opposite of what we saw in the last administration, and it's a refreshing thing to be able to have some good news to balance out my other comments.

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More from @waltshaub

23 Jul
The problem wasn’t that Jared & Ivanka made a lot of money while in government. That’s a red herring. It was passive investment income. The problem was that they were in government. The other problem was the risk of conflicts of interest, and we don’t know what their duties were.
Then there were the omissions from Jared’s forms, his interactions with foreign officials his vulnerability to influence, national security concerns, and his sheer incompetence. That’s a lot of problems. But passive investment income is not itself a problem. (Investments are).
Stated differently, the income's relevant only as a reminder that there was a massive portfolio of holdings posing potential for conflicts of interest. Reporting also raised misuse of position questions. The 2 were a nightmare. But citing the dollar value of income? Meaningless.
Read 4 tweets
23 Jul
Reporter just asked @PressSec what will happen if someone at the art showing for bidders tells Hunter they'll buy his art, noting the public won't now.

The response? She deflects, saying Hunter won't know who the buyers are, then jumps to another reporter.

They have no answer.
The secrecy agreement was designed to keep one group of people from knowing who buys Hunter Biden's art: The public.

There's no mechanism for monitoring, no mechanism for notifying the public if confidentiality is broken, no mechanism for tracking if buyers get access to govt.
This is what happens when members of a team convince themselves they're the "good guys." They believe there's no danger of enhanced access because they're the "good guys." But the arrogance of this view lies in the belief that the public has no right to monitor if access is sold.
Read 6 tweets
21 Jul
THREAD: Come on a journey with me. Don't stop until the end. Then, if you still want to do so, you can post your inane Billy Beer retorts and your "but Ivanka" whataboutisms. People keep asking me to repeat the explanations, so I'll do it one last time.
🎶Let's say we're "Just a city boy, born in south Detroit," but humble beginnings aren't gonna hold us back. Let's go to Faroffistan, a mythical land with no ethics program. Sure, we could take 🎶"the midnight train goin' anywhere." But we'll go there and build an ethics program.
We wanna finish our work fast 'cuz the Faroffistan presidential palace has 🎶"the smell of wine and cheap perfume." So let's just do the part about the proper us of governmental authority 'n public confidence in govt. Otherwise the ethics code will go 🎶"on and on and on and on."
Read 19 tweets
21 Jul
Rules of Twitter:
1. If you point out any ethical concern in 2021 you are saying it is EXACTLY the same as Trump, which is wrong.
2. Yes, you are
3. Yes, you are
4. And that's bothsiderism because we can only EVER complain about the other side
5. There are LOTS of coincidences
And we definitely believe in ethics, but nepotism or nepotism-adjacentism is fine, in fact we should have only one family in all of government. We could it a mono-archy or something because that's the best kind of republic. But also it's bad if the other side does nepotism.
And if my guy didn't open an hotel in Washington or appoint his kid in the White House then that means ethics has been solved for all time and we shouldn't talk about it and, if you do, it's definitely bothsiderism because you definitely are saying they are equal.
Read 4 tweets
21 Jul
Oh I’m sure all these things that keep happening are all a great big magical series of pure coincidences and nobody is doing anything goofy in this town ever. Except on the other side of which ever side of a line WE’RE on. Because that is exactly how coincidences work.
Look, it's obviously a total coincidence that Elena Kagan hired the kid of a the senior appellate court judge who was unfairly denied a seat on the Supreme Court.
And, look, it's a coincidence that the Biden administration hired a second Ricchetti.

And it's a coincidence that the Biden administration hired a third Ricchetti.

And it's a coincidence that the Biden administration hired a fourth Ricchetti.
Read 29 tweets
20 Jul
Here are 3 worthy nonprofits, if you’re planning your giving this year. One is the pro-democracy nonprofit where I work, @POGOwatchdog, a great group! Another fights hunger, @nokidhungry. And another is a wonderful advocate for immigrant families at the border, @RAICESTEXAS.
Read 4 tweets

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