Paul Ryan breaks with Trump, defends changes to congressional ethics panel

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House Speaker Paul Ryan defended Tuesday the proposed changes to an independent ethics panel, marking the first high-profile break with President-elect Donald Trump of the new year. “After eight years of operation, many members believe the Office of Congressional Ethics is in need of reform to protect due process and ensure it is operating according to its stated mission,” Ryan said in a statement. “I want to make clear that this House will hold its members to the highest ethical standards and the Office will continue to operate independently to provide public accountability to Congress.”

Trump called out Republicans earlier Tuesday, when he questioned the timing of the proposal but added that he did think the watchdog group is “unfair.”

“With all that Congress has to work on, do they really have to make the weakening of the Independent Ethics Watchdog, as unfair as it … may be, their number one act and priority. Focus on tax reform, healthcare and so many other things of far greater importance! #DTS,” Trump said over two consecutive tweets.