The White House Keeps Making Excuses for Its Senior Staff to Side-Step the Law

Illustration for article titled The White House Keeps Making Excuses for Its Senior Staff to Side-Step the Law
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The White House is the perfect example of that parent that tells you what the rules are and how important they are for you to follow but then proceeds to break every single one of them right in your face. Then, when you question why you have to follow the rules that they so easily break, they give you some lame excuse like, “Do as I say, not as I do.”


The Code of Federal Regulations has provisions set in place that prevent members of a presidential administration from doing anything that could potentially advance the financial interests of someone they have a personal relationship with, such as a family member or a former employee.

Apparently, it is OK to side-step those rules if doing so is “in the public interest,” and as the Daily Beast reports, White House counsel Don McGahn has used that exact reasoning for allowing two senior administration officials to communicate with their former employers and colleagues.

Bill Shine, who was recently appointed White House communications director, formerly worked as a producer and executive for Fox News. As we all know, Fox News seems to present nothing but favorable reports about the president.

And, as the Washington Post points out:

The revolving door between Fox News and Republican political figures has turned steadily for years, with failed GOP candidates finding a home at the network.

But since Donald Trump was elected president, the door has provided a number of former Fox personnel with entree into a government now infused with the cable channel’s fiery sensibility. And with Bill Shine’s appointment this summer to a top job in the White House, the door may finally come to rest.

The two worlds have merged into one universe: the Fox News White House. If Donald Trump is running his own touch-and-go reality show from Pennsylvania Avenue, he has finally found in Shine his executive producer.

So why is it that Shine needs to meet with anyone from Fox News now that he no longer works there? Whatever the reason, the White House counsel thinks it’s OK, because McGahn drafted a memo on July 13 that gave Shine an ethics waiver, allowing him to conduct said meetings.

“The Administration has an interest in you interacting with Covered Organizations such as Fox News,” McGahn wrote. “[T]he need for your services outweighs the concern that a reasonable person may question the integrity of the White House Office’s programs and operations.


“I have determined that it is appropriate and in the public interest,” he added.

McGahn did a similar thing for White House top economist Larry Kudlow, who previously worked at CNBC. Kudlow was also granted permission to speak with his former colleagues.


The Daily Beast posits that the reasoning behind this is the White House’s desire to maintain a good relationship with outlets that are seen as being friendly to the president and his agenda. The White House also seems to be recruiting senior staff from these same outlets.

But that wasn’t the case early in the administration when the same type of waiver was granted to former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, who was the former executive chairman Breitbart News—an outlet also seen as being very pro-Trump.


In Bannon’s instance, he had unlimited access to people who still made editorial decisions for the outlet.

I am in no way implying that there is something nefarious afoot; I am simply pointing out what a reasonable person might suspect is going on given the circumstances.


But, I will let you decide.

Why is the White House making these exceptions, and what do you think will come of them?


I’m taking all rumor, conjecture and speculation in the comments.

News Editor for The Root. I said what I said. Period.


Not Enough Day Drinking

a reasonable person may question the integrity of the White House Office’s programs and operations

There’s the rub. Reasonable people have already questioned it, found it completely lacking, and are wondering why nothing is being done about it. Other people (who work in the White House) are seeing that they’re getting away with it and no one’s going to try to stop them, so why bother trying to maintain the facade?