President-elect Donald Trump fired off a pair of tweets Tuesday morning expressing his displeasure with House Republicans for voting Monday night to gut their own ethics office.
“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,”
Trump added: “Focus on tax reform, healthcare and so many other things of far greater importance! #DTS”
House Republicans voted to weaken the Office of Congressional Ethics, which is a nonpartisan ethics watchdog, in a closed-door meeting on Monday. The lawmakers voted to place the office under the oversight of the House Ethics Committee, which gives them more control over the independent body tasked with investigating their behaviour. It was a measure that was added to a larger rules package expected to pass on Tuesday.
The new rules would eliminate the office’s spokesperson, its ability to investigate anonymous tips, its ability to alert law enforcement if has identified a crime, and its authority to publicly release allegations of wrongdoing, a mandate that the formal House Ethics Committee does not have.
House Republicans said this was because the public releases had undermined their own due process in investigations.
OCE was created in 2008 after a series of House corruption scandals. It will now be renamed the Office of Congressional Complaint Review.
House Speaker Paul Ryan and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy were reportedly against the measure.
“The OCE has a serious and important role in the House, and this amendment does nothing to impede their work,” said Rep. Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, who sponsored the measure.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who created the office, expressed dismay with the decision.
“Evidently, ethics are the first casualty of the new Republican Congress,” the California Democrat said in a statement.
MSNBC host and former GOP congressman Joe Scarborough on Tuesday also lashed out at the Republican lawmakers who voted to gut the office.
“Dudes, dude-ettes, what’s wrong with you?” Scarborough asked on “Morning Joe.”
He suggested Trump should oppose the measure, which he later expressed dismay with.
“This seems like a great opportunity for the incoming president to show his independence, show he wants to drain the swamp, and immediately start hammering them on this,” Scarborough said. “This is ridiculous. This is what happens. Time and time again, a party takes control of power, and Republicans have complete power, and their first act out of the gate — it’s just complete arrogance. It’s a horrific misstep.”
“This needs to be reversed,” he later added. “Paul Ryan needs to take charge, and say ‘You guys are looking like idiots and like you have something to hide. This is not how we’re supposed to start our new Republican era.'”
Maxwell Tani and Reuters contributed to this story.
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