Trump doesn’t care about legitimacy!

All presidents and vice presidents and cabinet members have family and friends whose jobs might be impacted by policy. That’s why we ask them to observe transparent ethics processes and norms. That is what Biden did. That is what Trump doesn’t do.

To begin with, we ask that presidents and vice presidents divest from personal business holdings. That is what Biden did. That is what Trump didn’t do.

Then we ask that presidents and vice presidents disclose tax returns and financial records to ensure transparency. That is what Biden did. That is what Trump refuses to do.

Then we ask presidents and vice presidents to observe the laws and norms against nepotism in government, by not hiring their family members. Biden observed those norms and laws. Trump refuses to do so.

Even when presidents & VPs divest from personal conflicts, disclose finances & avoid nepotism, sometimes questions still arise. Some things they can’t recuse from & will impact their own financial interests or family/friends. Things like tax cuts, foreign policy, military action.

And so we expect them to observe the norms of process in order to bolster legitimacy. By working through places like State Department, relying on interagency recommendations. It creates reassurance that decisions are being made in the national interest and not personal interest.

What Trump has done is refused to divest from his business, refused to disclose tax returns and financial documents, handed his children government jobs, and then circumvented regular process in the face of opposition from the executive branch and Congress.

Because Biden observed all ethics rules and norms, and was acting on behalf of the US with international support—a position reached through robust and transparent process—we can have confidence in his actions, even in situations in which someone identifies a possible conflict.

This is why past presidents and vice presidents have voluntarily observed these rules (at least most of them and usually). Because they know they may need it to preserve political legitimacy. But Trump doesn’t care about legitimacy. He is openly unethical and self-interested.

Here is a piece I wrote on exactly this problem in January 2017 and why ethics rules are essential to national security: https://t.co/KDBplx69ai

And here is a book I wrote with @benjaminwittes which has a whole entire chapter devoted to the subject, chock-full of fun historical examples! https://t.co/TxfUZ7pHqv

Susan Hennessey

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