'Very Good!' Ethics Office Goes on Tweetstorm Cheering Trump

Agency sent very uncharacteristic tweets in congratulating president-elect on divestiture
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 1, 2016 3:18 AM CST
Updated Dec 1, 2016 6:09 AM CST
Office of Government Ethics Sends Odd Tweets About Trump
Donald Trump gives the thumbs-up as he arrives at the Trump National Golf Club Bedminster clubhouse last week.   (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

Wednesday was such a strange day at the Office of Government Ethics that some observers thought it had been hacked—or driven over the edge by the challenges of the Trump transition. After Donald Trump tweeted that he would be "leaving" his businesses, the agency fired off a series of tweets heartily congratulating him on the "total divestiture"—though Trump hadn't said anything about selling. In messages the Washington Post describes as "deeply out of character for a federal ethics agency that is famously quiet and unadventurous," the OGE said: "Bravo! Only way to resolve these conflicts of interest is to divest. Good call!" and "Brilliant! Divestiture is good for you, very good for America!" The nine tweets were deleted an hour after they appeared Wednesday morning, but they reappeared in the afternoon.

It wasn't clear whether the OGE was being sarcastic or was referring to Trump plans that had not been made public, NPR notes. Trump has spoken of handing his businesses to his children instead of selling them and putting the proceeds in a blind trust, which ethics experts say isn't enough to avoid conflicts of interest. Another OGE tweet mentioned that the agency had discussed divestiture with Trump's lawyers. Politico reports that OGE spokesman Seth Jaffe said the non-partisan agency was responding to Trump's announcement, not to any undisclosed information. He made it clear that the office views divestiture as the only ethical choice. "Divestiture resolves conflicts of interest in a way that transferring control does not," he said. "We don't know the details of their plan, but we are willing and eager to help them with it." (More Donald Trump stories.)

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