The U.S. Office of Governmental Ethics doesn’t typically hop onto Twitter and get snarky, but then again, President-elect Donald Trump is far from typical.
Yesterday morning, Trump took to the social media platform to address concerns about his ability to lead the government while running business interests throughout the world. “While I am not mandated to do this under the law, I feel it is visually important, as President, to in no way have a conflict of interest with my various businesses,” he said, and added that “Legal documents are being crafted which take me completely out of business operations.”
Of course, we’ll see about that.
Many were shocked, though, by the tweet storm from the verified Twitter account of the Governmental Ethics office, which seemed to goad the president-elect.
“Bravo! Only way to resolve these conflicts of interest is to divest. Good call!” one tweet read, obviously mimicking Trump’s personal tweeting style. And another: “OGE is delighted that you’ve decided to divest your businesses. Right decision!”
Then, as NPR reports, all of the office’s tweets disappeared.
While some thought the office might have been hacked (we’re sure many’s eyes looked to Russia), the Washington Post thought the OGE had perhaps leaked news that Trump wanted to save for his upcoming Dec. 15 press conference. Then again, maybe it was the result of one rogue employee in the ethics office.
Even weirder still, hours later, all of the OGE’s tweets returned. They were reposted for all of Twitter to see.
Seth Jaffe, chief of the agency’s ethics law and policy branch, emailed a statement to NPR, saying, “Like everyone else, we were excited this morning to read the President-elect’s twitter feed indicating that he wants to be free of conflicts of interest. OGE applauds that goal, which is consistent with an opinion OGE issued in 1983. Divestiture resolves conflicts of interest in a way that transferring control does not. We don’t know the details of their plan, but we are willing and eager to help them with it.”
So the tweets were deliberate! There was no hack, or a rogue employee aboard the OGE. Why they were ever deleted, we still don’t know, but it warms our heart that even a stoic organization like the U.S. Office of Governmental Ethics has a sense of humor when it comes to the ridiculousness of our president-elect’s twitter habits. And it’s important that Trump knows his every move is being watched and scrutinized.
In the words of NPR, “Perhaps it’s part of a new, Trump-inspired era of governing and social media. Big league!”