Subverting the expectations of some of his critics and going back to how he used to do things, CNN’s Jake Tapper spent over eight minutes on Thursday’s edition of The Lead going after Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) for her opposition to measures that would make Congress more ethical and crackdown on insider trading. He even brought on the former director of the Office of Government Ethics, Walter Shaub to take her to task.
Immediately after returning from a commercial break, Tapper announced it was time for a “conflict of interest watch.” He then likely made her fan base unhappy by warning that “Ethics experts” were “sounding the alarm today after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she would not support a ban on members of Congress and their spouses from trading stocks while in office.”
Chief congressional correspondent Manu Raju joined him and noted the Business Insider investigation that found “found that 49 Members of Congress and 182 senior-level congressional staffers” were in direct violation of the 2012 STOCK Act that was passed in an attempt to keep insider trading from occurring.
“People aren’t reporting, they should be. Because this is a free market and people – We are a free market economy they should be able to participate in that,” Pelosi sneered at journalists during her Wednesday press conference.
And when it was his turn to give his commentary and analysis, Shaub twice ripped up the Speaker’s pathetic argument:
Nancy Pelosi says it’s a free market. In reality, it’s not exactly a free market when she has inside access to information from government experts that isn’t public that can affect and influence their trading activity that the public doesn’t have access to. It’s not exactly free when we’re locked outside of the kind of information that members of Congress get all the time.
Shaub went further and rightly pointed out that “nobody kidnapped them and dragged them to Washington and said you must be in Congress and pointed a gun at their head. They are there by choice. They asked us to give them great power over our lives. They owe us great transparency and lack of conflict of interest.”
“And I would just add the mere appearance that they are engaging in insider trading is just as bad as if they actually are,” he said. “Because we have a crisis of confidence in government right now and the public can’t just take their word for it.”
Tapper even seemed to take on those on the left who didn’t appreciate him and Shaub calling out the Democrats and the progressives for being corrupt, when they should be focusing on the Republicans threatening Democracy.
Shaub countered by pointing out that the existence of corruption, or at least the perception of it, was in itself a form of voter suppression. “You want to talk about voter suppression, look at the sheer number of Americans who don’t vote. Some of them don’t vote because we put obstacles in their way but others don’t vote because they’ve given up,” he said.
“How are you going to convince these people who aren’t voting that they should participate and that it matters who is in Congress when you have members of Congress just willy-nilly trading stocks and creating the appearance of insider trading and actual conflicts of interest,” he rhetorically asked his critics.