U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has recused himself from issues related to TransCanada Corp's application for a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, the State Department said in a letter on Thursday to the environmental group Greenpeace.Why did Tillerson have to recuse himself? Because he is the former CEO of Exxon Mobil, which "has investments in Canadian oil sands" and thus stands to benefit from the approval of Keystone XL.
"He has not worked on that matter at the Department of State, and will play no role in the deliberations or ultimate resolution of TransCanada's application," said the letter from Katherine McManus, the State Department's deputy legal adviser.
This, of course, comes a week after Attorney General Jeff Sessions had to recuse himself from Russia investigations, after he failed to disclose, and lied under oath about, having met multiple times with Russian Envoy Sergey Kislyak.
At this point, it might be easier if the entire Trump administration recused itself from governance, full-stop. https://t.co/yYtItMMV2y— Melissa McEwan (@Shakestweetz) March 9, 2017
This administration is dirty. And that is a top-down problem. Donald Trump has all kinds of conflicts of interests; he has a curious relationship with Vladimir Putin and has had in his employ, during the campaign and onward, a dozen people (that we know of) who have ties to Russia; he has naught but contempt for the rule of law and our democratic institutions; he's running a dual discrediting campaign against the intelligence community and the press; and he's an inveterate bigot.
When the buck stops with a guy who thinks ethics are for losers, this is the kind of governance we get: A Secretary of State who imagines it's sufficient to say he's recusing himself from a major international project, leaving questions about who will take the lead at State, as well as questions about how it's really possible to be the head of a multibillion corporation one day and just "recuse" yourself from projects that benefit that corporate the next.
This is exactly the disaster that Trump critics feared and warned his presidency would be. This mess was avoidable. But here we are.