Most Corrupt Modern President? Former Ethics Chief Criticizes Trump

Apr 5, 2019

Walter Shaub Jr., Barack Obama's Former Director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, talks about ethics in Washington today.
Credit Anna Saunders

The latest installment of the “Democracy in Peril?” series at James Madison University focused on ethics in Washington. WMRA’s Anna Saunders reports.

Walter Shaub Jr. served in the U.S. Office of Government Ethics under the Bush administration before becoming the department’s head under Barack Obama. Last night he returned to his alma mater to talk about ethics in Washington and how he believes it has gone astray during Donald Trump’s presidency.

Shaub resigned from his post of director after several clashes with Trump. In his talk, Shaub even referred to Trump as the most corrupt president in modern history, despite Trump’s campaign promises of <quote> “draining the swamp.”

WALTER SHAUB JR.: The phrase has always meant get rid of corruption. Drain the government of corruption. He’s sort of twisted that phrase to mean get rid of people who don’t agree with me.

Shaub blamed what he sees as increased polarization in the U.S. for a lack of accountability for the president.

SHAUB: Our country has become so polarized that they just don’t care when it’s their own guy and not the other person behaving a certain way.

Shaub now works as a senior adviser for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, or CREW, a nonprofit group working to reduce the influence of money and restore ethics to Washington.  Shaub's policy council Gabe Lezra said that although CREW works at the federal level ethical accountability is also important at the local and state level.

GABE LEZRA: I think people have lost faith in government generally. And if they can see their local and state governments operating appropriately and ethically and accountably, then they’ll believe that their federal government should be doing the same as well.