The White House was left searching for some ice for that burn yesterday, after the U.S. Office of Government Ethics took a thinly veiled swat at President Trump.
In a blog post, the acting director of the agency commented on a recent survey that shows a rising number of Americans believe the president is corrupt.
“The good news is that most of you are carrying out the people’s business with honor and integrity,” wrote David Apol, the agency general counsel, whom Trump named to replace Walter Shaub last July. “You’re keeping your oath. Thank you. Remember what is at stake and take pride in your service.”
“On the other hand,” he wrote, “those who are doing things that undermine the public’s trust, even if they don’t violate a rule, need to stop. Nothing you could gain economically or politically could possibly justify putting our democracy at risk. These are perilous times.”
Apol referred to a report by Transparency International, which showed that 44 percent of Americans believe that "corruption is pervasive in the White House," up from 36 percent during the Obama administration. "The current US president was elected on a promise of cleaning up American politics and making government work better for those who feel their interests have been neglected by political elites," the report said. "Yet, rather than feeling better about progress in the fight against corruption over the past year, a clear majority of people in America now say that things have become worse." Among the report's findings: Nearly 70 percent of Americans say the government is doing a bad job at fighting internal corruption, up from about half that the year before.
In his blog post, Apol concluded, “The success of our Constitution, the success of our government, depends on the trust of the people that we serve. Today, our fellow citizens are suspicious of their government.”
The Office of Government Ethics got headlines last summer, when Shaub resigned before the end of his term, saying that Trump officials' unwillingness to separate themselves from potential conflicts of interest had made his job impossible.
Politico asked Shaub what might have prompted Apol's blog post. "A bottle of Merlot, most likely," he said.