President Obama notoriously spends hours in late-night or overnight sessions to draft responses when an issue or event is so large that it requires careful consideration. Monday night’s vote by House Republicans to gut the Congressional Ethics Office (despite protests by Speaker Paul Ryan) would be one of those moments, and we’re getting a taste of how Trump will handle times like these. Of course, he’s doing so with muddled tweets, but he’s calling out House Republicans nonetheless.
The House GOP voted — on a federally recognized holiday — to do away with its own watchdog, which was established by Democrats in 2008 to combat corruption. Presumably, Republicans want to push forward with new initiatives (such doing away with the Affordable Health Care Act) without being accused of lobbying interference from corporate interests. This is a huge deal, and Trump responded with a pair of confusing statements.
He stated, “With all that Congress has to work on, do they really have to make the weakening of the Independent Ethics Watchdog, as unfair as it is may be, their number one act and priority. Focus on tax reform, healthcare and so many other things of far greater importance! #DTS”
He’s sort of asking a question here by wondering why Republicans made this dismantling their first priority on the eve of a new Congressional session. Trump does call the ethics committee “unfair,” but he is criticizing the House GOP. It’s almost impossible to hop inside of Trump’s mind at any moment, but he may be criticizing Congress here because — seriously — eliminating one’s own watchdog is not a good look. Trump isn’t overly concerned with appearances, but even he recognizes that is a truly awful move.
Incoming Press Secretary Sean Spicer clarified Trump’s sentiments: “He says their focus should be on tax reform and healthcare. It’s not a question of strengthening or weakening, it’s a question of priorities.”