The director of the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) says White House counselor Kellyanne Conway misused her official position by hawking Ivanka Trump’s product line on TV and recommends the White House punish her. “Under the present circumstances, there is strong reason to believe that Ms. Conway has violated the Standards of Conduct Act and that disciplinary action is warranted,” Walter Schaub wrote in a Tuesday letter to White House legal counselor Stefan Passantino.
Less than a month into his presidency, conservative judges block Trump’s carelessly assembled executive orders, the national security leadership is in disarray, Republican Senators are launching a probe of the administration’s secret engagement with Russia, the much-promised Obamacare replacement is nowhere to be found, and WH staffers are turning on one another with daily leaks about who will be fired first. Trump assails “leaks” but continues to use and tweet from an unsecured Android phone. The uproar over the resignation of National Security chief Mike Flynn continues around the time between DOJ notification of the WH of its concerns about Flynn weeks ago and Trump’s “awareness”of the problem, including the chance that Russia could blackmail Flynn while he was in charge of the nation’s national security apparatus.
Government agency staffers and scientists silo data in secure server farms in case of purges ordered by Trump appointees.
The director of the Secret Service, Joseph Clancy retires. Clancy came out of retirement two years ago to repair the damaged agency after a series of embarrassments. Moreover, Trump’s decision to retain a private security staff, causing blurred lines in the chain of command protecting the president, may have played into the Clancy’s retirement decision.
Similar gaps in the chain of authority within the WH continue to mar the infant administration, as uncertainty aggravates friction between top staffers. On Facebook, the publication of iPhone photos by diners at Trump Mar-a-Lago, while the president, Japanese PM Abe, huddled around the North Korea missile launch prompts culture critic and comic Stephen Colbert to question, “I’ll have the shrimp scampi or intercontinental ballistic missile.” ‘HOLY MOLY!!!’ a Trump friend wrote later on Facebook while posting photos of the moment: ‘It was fascinating to watch the flurry of activity at dinner when the news came that North Korea had launched a missile in the direction of Japan. … Wow…..the center of the action!!!’
The Washington Post writes: “With President Trump in his fourth full week in office, the upheaval inside the administration that West Wing officials had optimistically dismissed as growing pains is now embedding itself as standard operating procedure. Trump — distracted by political brushfires, often of his own making — has failed to fill such key posts as White House communications director, while sub-Cabinet positions across agencies and scores of ambassadorships around the globe still sit empty.”
Criticism pours over Utah Congressman and House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz says that the “Flynn matter is taking care of itself”. Chaffetz (R-Utah), who hounded Hillary Clinton for years (emails and Benghazi), said Tuesday that his panel won’t investigate the circumstances that led to Flynn stepping down.
The Orlando Sentinel reports, “It should come as no surprise that Marco Rubio, a Florida senator who has so far voted “yes” on every single one of Trump’s cabinet appointees, has coincidentally received more cash from Trump’s cabinet appointees than any other other senator. New figures from the Center for Responsive Politics show that Rubio and the PACs supporting his campaigns have collectively received hundreds of thousands of dollars in political contributions from President Donald Trump’s cabinet picks, with the vast majority coming from newly minted Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Last week it was revealed that Rubio had received almost $100,000 from DeVos, but that seems only to scratch the surface. When you include their donations to the Conservative Solutions PAC (which was supporting Rubio’s unsuccessful presidential run), DeVos and her husband have donated roughly $802,500 to Rubio.”