Steve Bannon appears to have gotten a ‘retroactive’ waiver on ethics rules he had already violated

thierry ehrmann / Flickr steve bannon painting...
thierry ehrmann / Flickr

How crooked is the Trump White House? Crooked enough to apparently invent whole new ways to be crooked.

The Trump administration may have skirted federal ethics rules by retroactively granting a blanket exemption that allows Stephen K. Bannon, the senior White House strategist, to communicate with editors at Breitbart News, where he was recently an executive.

The key word there is “retroactively.” As in, the ethics rules that Trump gaudily put in place to replace Obama-era rules would have disallowed such contact, such things being too ethically dubious even for Donald Freaking Trump. But Bannon was discovered to have done it anyway, because he is a human pile of garbage, and because Donald Trump is also a human pile of garbage the reaction to Bannon getting caught violating one of the few ethical boundaries Team Tire Fire had sheepishly put in place was, apparently, for Trump to issue an undated exemption exempting him from following the ethics rules he already broke.

Yeah, that isn’t going to fly.

The waiver, and the fact that it remains unclear when it was originally issued, seemed unusual to Walter M. Shaub Jr., the director of the Office of Government Ethics, who questioned its validity.

“There is no such thing as a retroactive waiver,” Mr. Shaub said in an interview. “If you need a retroactive waiver, you have violated a rule.”

Oh, Office of Government Ethics. Your quaint rules from the before-times entertain a weary world.

Anyhoo, nothing is likely to come from this because Team Trump is in charge of deciding whether or not they are crooked, and Team Trump wants to be very crooked very much, thank you. House Republicans could stop it, if they wanted to, and you’ll note Paul Ryan and the rest of the caucus are quite conspicuously not doing that.

So at this point we just have yet another case of the Trump administration brazenly breaking ethical rules and daring anybody to do about it. The government’s ethics office can point out it’s happening, but if anyone wants to do anything about it they first have to find Paul Ryan a moral compass. Good luck with that.

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