GOP lawmaker would rather investigate those critical of Donald Trump than Trump himself

Source: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) indicated Thursday that he'd rather investigate an ethics officer who has questioned President-elect Donald Trump's conflicts of interest, rather than make sure Trump is behaving ethically.

In a strongly worded letter, Chaffetz threatened to investigate Office of Government Ethics Director Walter Shaub, who said this week that Trump's newly announced plan to manage his massive business empire while president did not go far enough to eradicate "suspicions of corruption."

"Your agency's mission is to provide clear ethics guidance, not engage in public relations," Chaffetz told Shaub in the letter. "The Committee is thus continuing its examination of OGE's operations."

Chaffetz's threat to investigate Shaub and the OGE but not Trump now has Chaffetz under fire.

Trump announced a plan Wednesday eliminate potential conflicts of interest, but many ethics experts say the plan does not go far enough

And Trump invited yet another round of criticism the same day Chaffetz sent the letter, after Trump promoted the business of a campaign donor.

Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings, the ranking member on the House Oversight Committee, called Chaffetz out for, "acting as a cheerleader for Donald Trump." 

"The Oversight Committee is supposed to protect whistleblowers and independent government watchdogs like the Office of Government Ethics instead of retaliating against them for political reasons," Cummings said in a statement.

Mindy Finn, an anti-Trump Republican, questioned Chaffetz's priorities. 

"Why would [Chaffetz] come down on the ethics watchdog and not the ethics offender?" Finn tweeted.

"So [Chaffetz] has decided that his 'oversight' role is to be Trump's enforcer," MSNBC host Joy Reid tweeted.

Chaffetz — who was part of Congress' years-long investigation into Hillary Clinton's role in the embassy attack in Benghazi — wasn't always a staunch defender of the president-elect.

In October, after the Access Hollywood tape dropped, Chaffetz pulled his Trump endorsement, saying he couldn't look his 15-year-old daughter "in the eye and tell her that I endorse Donald Trump for president when he acts like this."

Those days of criticizing Trump seem to be behind Chaffetz now.

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Emily C. Singer

Emily C. Singer, née Cahn, is a senior writer for Mic covering politics. She is based in New York and can be reached at esinger@mic.com

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