A Champion Of the Rules Takes a Stand

In Conflict of Interest On

Mr. Shaub, 46, has emerged as one of the few voices from within the government willing to second-guess the president and his advisers. At first quietly and then in a rare public speech here in January, Mr. Shaub tried to nudge Mr. Trump toward the only financial arrangement he felt was truly ethical — the total liquidation of his vast business and personal holdings.

He failed. But that confrontation and a string of others in the months since have given Mr. Shaub, a self-effacing career bureaucrat more comfortable parsing legal arguments and wonkish ethics guidelines, the reputation of a fighter. Admiring fans have put his face on T-shirts. He even has a Facebook fan group, with more than 1,000 likes.

“The story of Walter Shaub is to some extent the story of our American system of checks and balances that has stepped up beyond expectation to defend the Constitution and the law when Trump oversteps,” said Norman Eisen, the Obama administration’s first ethics counsel. Mr. Shaub, he added, might well be “the unlikeliest star of 2017.”

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