U.S. government teaches us why the Ethics (& Compliance) Office needs to be clearly separated from the Legal Office

Repeatedly, Barr said it didn’t matter that Trump had deceived the public. “I’m not in the business of determining when lies are told to the American people,” he said. But now Barr, by misrepresenting his dealings with Mueller, has gotten himself into the business of lying to the American people.

– D. Milibank in the Washington Post, 2 May 2019

The discussion about the “correct” interpretation of the Mueller report show one thing above all:

Ethics (&Compliance) are a clearly separate topic from Legal. It’s a good thing that we have seen in recent years more and more of an emancipation of the Compliance functions from the Legal functions, where they started, and the clear emergence of “Ethics” as the first and more important subject matter of this independent profession.

In the drama around Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections and possible obstruction of justice by Mr. Trump, we witness every single day how distinctly different the legal perspective is from the ethical. And that if something is “not (outright) illegal” this doesn’t make it ethical in any way.

I will be using the House hearings of Attorney General Barr et. al. in the years to come as prime examples of ethical fading and blindness.

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