On Tuesday morning, hours after news broke that House Republicans had voted to severely weaken the Office of Congressional Ethics, President-elect Donald Trump criticized the GOP move. "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 tweeted, "........may be, their number one act and priority. Focus on tax reform, healthcare and so many other things of far greater importance! #DTS."
Trump's tweets are somewhat surprising, but he is hardly the only Republican who criticized the decision to effectively strip the independent watchdog group of its powers. House Speaker Paul Ryan reportedly tried to persuade his fellow Republicans to vote against the measure and then released a statement stressing that "All members of Congress are required to earn the public’s trust every single day, and this House will hold members accountable to the people.”
Moreover, gutting the Office of Congressional Ethics of its ability to strongly monitor potential corruption does seem to run contrary to Trump's campaign vow to "drain the swamp." Then again, a number of his own cabinet picks, as well as his own potential conflicts of interest and his seeming unwillingness to disentangle from his personal business ventures, have raised serious concerns about how the president-elect will fulfill that promise.
On Tuesday morning, before Trump sent out his tweets, Kellyanne Conway, one of Trump's closest senior advisers and presidential campaign manager, defended House Republicans' move to gut the Office of Congressional Ethics. Speaking on ABC's Good Morning America, Conway said, "Let's make clear that you're still going to have an Office of Complaint Review. In other words, it’s not like we’re taking away everything." She added that Trump would still be committed to his swamp draining promises but that the office had shown “overzealousness in some of the processes over the years.”