Walter Shaub, former head of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, on Wednesday delivered a stinging rebuke of White House press secretary Jen Psaki after she appeared to dismiss concerns surrounding the sale of artworks created by President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden.
Shaub, via a lengthy thread on Twitter, slammed Psaki’s response as “disappointing.”
“These are legitimate questions,” Shaub wrote. “After the last 4 years, these questions have never been more important. I know this isn’t a popular opinion, but this stuff matters.”
He added: “It doesn’t matter that Trump was worse. What matters is that this sets a low bar for ethics.”
During Tuesday’s White House press briefing, Psaki brushed off questions from a New York Post reporter about whether the buyers of Hunter Biden’s art would remain anonymous after the Post reported that lawyers were vetting prospective attendees of a showing of his works.
“I know this is your favorite topic,” Psaki responded to the reporter. “But it, again, it still is the purview of the gallerist. We still do not know and will not know who purchases any paintings. And the president remains proud of his son.”
Psaki then asked the reporter if he had “another question on something else,” because “otherwise, we’re going to move on to some other topics. Lots going on in the world.”
Shaub expressed his frustration at the ethics issues raised by Hunter Biden’s art sale in the first place, and at Psaki’s response. The concerns were “all the worse because Biden ran as the antidote to Trump,” he wrote.
Critics fear the unusual agreement to keep the identities of art buyers secret may allow them to curry favor with the Biden White House. The White House argues it can’t favor people who are anonymous.
“Many Twitter users have made clear they hate hearing this,” Shaub acknowledged. “But it is objectively bad. It would be better not to pretend this isn’t bad. Those individuals should just admit that, like Trump supporters, they don’t care about ethics when their guy is in charge.”
The conflict isn’t comparable “to the corruption of the Trump admin,” Shaub added. Nevertheless, it was “a failure to lift the nation out of the mire into which Trump sunk it.”
“Sure, we sit much less deeply in the muck,” Shaub wrote. “But muck isn’t what we deserve.”
Read Shaub’s full thread here: