Update: Republicans have abandoned (for now) their plans to sell themselves to the highest bidder after a combination of a massive public outcry, a disapproving tweet from Trump and the lack of support from House GOP leadership made the move to gut oversight politically toxic.
Some people are questioning if this was the plan all along to make Trump seems less corrupt or if this is a sign of a party in complete disarray even as they take hold of all the levers of power. Both options seem equally unappealing.
In eager anticipation of the tsunami of bribe money Trump's election will enable, House Republicans have gutted the Office of Congressional Ethics:
The office currently has free rein, enabling investigators to pursue allegations and then recommend further action to the House Ethics Committee as they see fit.
Now, the office would be under the thumb of lawmakers themselves. The proposal also appears to limit the scope of the office’s work by barring them from considering anonymous tips against lawmakers. And it would stop the office from disclosing the findings of some of their investigations, as they currently do after the recommendations go to House Ethics.
The OCE was created by Democrats to watchdog the House in the wake of the Jack Abramoff scandal as an independent body free from partisanship. Obviously, in the era of Trump, that kind of oversight will impede the business of the 1% so it had to go. And since Republicans can rely on extreme gerrymandering to keep control of any and all ethics investigations, we'll just have to take their word that no one is being bribed.
The justification for this move is similarly obnoxious:
[Judiciary Chairman Bob] Goodlatte defended his proposal in a statement: “The amendment ... improves upon due process rights for individuals under investigation, as well as witnesses called to testify. The OCE has a serious and important role in the House, and this amendment does nothing to impede their work.”
Considering House Republicans have weaponzied leaks and used innuendo and improperly edited documents to smear Democrats, this is a ballsy claim. But when shame is in short supply, anything is possible. On a related note, it's going to be absolutely fascinating to watch Trump supporters do Olympic-level mental gymnastics to rationalize this.
Relying on Trump to keep the public confused and distracted, Republicans are ringing the dinner bell for the rich and unscrupulous. We're about to witness corruption on a scale unseen since the Gilded Age and it's just getting started.
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