That one thing that, in terms of least importance in a Trump White House, coming ahead of only “intellect” is being brought up, again.
That would be “ethics.”
More specifically, the disregard for ethical conduct that would be a hallmark of the Trump brand.
Three former White House ethics lawyers are in agreement that Trump’s continued contact with his former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, could be an ethical no-no.
The three lawyers, Richard Painter, Virginia Canter, and Norman Eisen collaborated on an op-ed for Politico’s Friday edition, stating that if Bannon is still advising Trump from the outside, suggesting he go after Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation, it could be in violation of the law.
“We are deeply troubled by the news reports that Bannon, with the evident support of his cohort at Breitbart News, is urging the president to take action against Robert Mueller,” the three attorneys write.
“Bannon may be taking on a representation role that would place him in conflict with his post-employment restrictions,” they add.
Bannon was ousted because he was a troublemaker, and very likely the source of many of the leaks that plagued the earlier days of the administration. It’s a theory I feel holds some weight, considering the fact that there seem to be fewer inflammatory leaks now, than there were when he was haunting the halls of the West Wing.
So what could be his specific violation?
Former White House officials are barred from “contacting any part of the executive branch, including the president, with the intent to influence official decisions in any particular party matter in which the former official participated personally,” according to the attorneys.
That would include the Russia investigation, which Bannon had a hand in coordinating the administration’s response towards before he was ousted by Trump’s chief of staff John Kelly.
Reports earlier this week included news that Bannon was suggesting that the president defund Mueller’s investigation, effectively ending it, without the more drastic measure of firing Mueller, outright.
Even if he’s just trying to slow Mueller down, it’s still a problem.
“If Bannon urged Trump to hamper Mueller in order to prevent him from indicting misconduct by those involved in the Trump campaign (including Trump himself), that would present a possible obstruction issue,” they write.
“We do not know whether any of this has occurred—but the contacts do raise multiple eyebrows,” the three attorneys write. “They merit closer scrutiny.”
And they really do.
A sitting U.S. president shouldn’t be receiving direction from a click-bait site manager, who, according to his own words, is a “Leninist” and would like nothing better than to burn down our entire system of government.
Bannon was shuttled out of the White House inner circle for a reason. Let him stay gone.