With the indictments coming down against Paul Manafort and his partner, Rick Gates, I turned on CNN just in time to see Mr. Manafort’s attorney, Kevin Downing, stating that few people have been prosecuted by the Department of Justice for failing to file under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).
It’s time for my weekly roundup, which may actually be a wrap-up of the last 24 hours. Like every week since the inauguration, it has been quite a week in Washington: the confirmations of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Attorney General Jeff Sessions; the silencing of Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s explanation; and the Nordstrom ethics kerfuffle. There were more ethics issues from Kellyanne Conway promoting Ivanka Trump’s line on Fox News, and, ultimately, the subsequent crash of the Office of Government Ethics website (again).
One of my favorite movies when I was a kid was “The NeverEnding Story.”
If you don’t know it, it’s the story of a boy named Sebastian who finds a magical book. Bullied by other kids, he skips school to read the adventure of the brave warrior Atreyu’s quest to save the world from destruction by The Nothing.
A lot of people felt good after watching democracy in action Tuesday. And we all should! This is how things are supposed to work! A party tried to pass a terrible rule in secret. Civil society resisted and journalists reported. Heck, even Jack Abramoff himself, the guy whose scandal spurred creation of the office, spoke out against the move! People called their representatives and at around noon eastern time, House GOP members had unanimously agreed to back away from the proposal.
*** UPDATE TO THIS POST: Some great news: Your calls and emails worked! House GOP members reversed course on dismantling the OCE.
The new session of Congress starts today and there’s already a troubling development. In conference last night, Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-Virginia) proposed an amendment to the House rules package which would basically dismantle the Office of Congressional Ethics. It would take away the spokesperson for the office as well as prohibit the investigation of anonymous complaints. The proposal also appears to say the office (which would be renamed) would not be able to report criminal activity to police without first running it by the House Ethics Committee.