An ominous threat

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Jason Chaffetz


This is the way dictatorships start. A whistleblower criticizes the boss and the boss’s minions destroy the critic. Pretty simple. If they get by with it they continue to strong-arm his critics until none are left and voila: a dictatorship.

Yes, of course, it’s messier than that and takes longer, but that’s the method.

On Wednesday the president-elect refused to create a blind trust for his assets despite public opinion that he should. The director of the Government Ethics Office called the refusal insufficient and was immediately ordered in for questioning under threat of subpoena. Not only that, the sternly worded summons reminded him that the sender had the power to destroy his office.

Yes, pretty simple.

On Thursday Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, wrote to Walter Schaub, head of OEG, telling him to present himself for questioning by Jan. 31 and reminding him that the committee can close the Government Ethics Office if it wants to. Theoretically, under rules the House Republicans passed just ten days ago, Chaffetz also could cut Schaub’s annual salary to $1.

“This is not going to be an optional exercise,” Chaffetz told Politico.

The ranking Democrat on the committee, Rep. Elijah Cummings, asked Chaffetz to “invite” Schaub to testify in public “to avoid any perception that he is being unfairly targeted behind closed doors for expressing his views.”

The committee Chaffetz chairs is intended to be a government watchdog committee. Now we have the spectacle of one government watchdog going after another government watchdog.

Chaffetz, who recently used his position primarily for pursuing Hillary Clinton though she’s no longer in government, demeans himself and the committee by attempting to turn it into Donald Trump’s personal junkyard dog.

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