The outgoing head of the Office of Government Ethics is not shying away from his criticism of President Trump as he prepares to leave his post, warning the president is undermining the United States' credibility on the global stage.
Walter Shaub announced earlier this month his decision to resign as director of the Office of Government Ethics, a position he's held since 2013, and will officially step down from Tuesday.
Since Trump won the White House in November, Shaub has gone head-to-head with Trump over his business dealings, and criticized how the president decided to handle conflicts of interest with his businesses.
Now, Shaub is warning that the U.S. is ceding its position as a leader on ethical standards.
"It's hard for the United States to pursue international anti-corruption and ethics initiatives when we're not even keeping our own side of the street clean. It affects our credibility," Shaub told the New York Times. "I think we're pretty close to a laughingstock at this point."
Shaub helped many of Trump's wealthy Cabinet members, such as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, navigate the process of eliminating potential conflicts of interest before joining the administration, and previous presidents have worked closely with the Office of Government Ethics.
But, the outgoing ethics chief has clashed with Trump and spoke out against the president's visits to properties owned by the Trump Organization.
According to a database of visits compiled by the New York Times, the president has visited at least one Trump Organization-owned property on more than 50 days since assuming the presidency.
"It creates the appearance of profiting from the presidency," Shaub said. "Misuse of position is really at the heart of the ethics program, and the internationally accepted definition of corruption is abuse of entrusted power. It undermines the government ethics program by casting doubt on the integrity of government decision making."
In a statement to the New York Times, the White House dismissed Shaub's comments about Trump.
"Mr. Schaub's penchant for raising concerns on matters well outside his scope with the media before ever raising them with the White House — which happens to be his actual day job — is rather telling," White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said in a statement, misspelling Shaub's name. "The truth is, Mr. Schaub is not interested in advising the executive branch on ethics. He's interested in grandstanding and lobbying for more expansive powers in the office he holds."
Shaub is leaving the Office of Government Ethics for a job at the nonprofit Campaign Legal Center, and told the New York Times he would like to see Congress enact a number of proposals related to the ethics office.
Changes include giving the Office of Government Ethics limited subpoena power, and the authority to negotiate prohibitions on presidential conflicts of interest, require presidential candidates to release their tax returns — which Trump has yet to do — and revise financial disclosure rules.
Shaub conceded it would be difficult for some of his proposals to pass in Congress, but lawmakers have signaled they're open to changes.
Rep. Trey Gowdy, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, is planning to meet with Shaub, and Gowdy's office told the New York Times they plan to discuss ways to improve the ethics process.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, ranking member of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, is also working on legislation that will include some of Shaub's ideas.
Cummings, D-Md., sent Gowdy, R-S.C., a letter last month urging him to bring Shaub before the committee to testify on the need for stronger ethics rules.