White House Ethics Official is Planning to Resign

Stefan Passantino, the deputy White House counsel responsible for policing ethics for President Donald Trump’s officials, apparently has decided to leave the administration, Politico reported.

He joined the administration in January 2017, after formerly serving as an attorney to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Passantino has weathered a number of ethics scandals from Trump administration officials, including concerns about the use of private flights, the improper spending of taxpayer dollars, accusations of Hatch Act violations and more.

Trump himself, as well as his daughter and son-in-law who serve as top advisers, have been criticized for allegedly profiting from real estate holdings and Trump hotels throughout his presidency.

Former President Barack Obama ethics chief and a prominent Trump critic, Norm Eisen, said to Politico that he was “amazed [Passantino] made it as long as he did.”

“His client was the White House, but its head, the President, is as difficult an ethics subject as has ever occupied the Oval,” Eisen said. “No ethicist could thrive in that environment.”

Ex-White House ethics chief Walter Shaub, who served under Trump for a short period before resigning, said that Passantino was “openly hostile” to the government ethics program.

“I’m glad to hear he’s leaving,” Shaub said. “He is a nice guy — charming even, and easy to like on a personal level. I’d want him as a neighbor, but not as an ethics official.”

“On a professional level, he has been openly hostile to the government ethics program, like nothing we’d ever seen,” Shaub added. “He’s done more harm than good in his brief stint in the White House. His detrimental influence on the government ethics program under the Trump administration was a factor in my decision to resign.”

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