Staffers Used Meditation App to Keep Sane Under Trump, Ex-Ethics Chief Says

In order to help Office of Government Ethics staffers deal with stress from working under President Donald Trump, ex-White House ethics chief Walter Shaub said he started holding daily group meditation sessions using an app.

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Shaub, who resigned in July, said at least six of about 70 staffers regularly attended the 10-minute meditation breaks he held with the Headspace app, which guides users through breathing and relaxing imagination exercises.

"The staff looked just really fried. The problem is the direct assault on the ethics program which is the thing that every person in that room had committed their lives to," Shaub told CNBC in a report published Friday.

"It just occurred to me that maybe if the boss said 'we're going to take a 10 break'...and it would be completely voluntary, that would be a relief," said Shaub, who was director of the office under then-President Barack Obama.

Besides the regulars, about seven other staffers would join the sessions held at 3:10 p.m. daily.

"It kind of made us strong in weathering a very tumultuous storm at the time. Of the ones who came regularly, they loved it, and we all seemed to hunger for it," Shaub said. "Afterward, people felt like, OK, this is still miserable in what we're going through, but we can get back into the ring for another round now."

Members of the office, an independent agency within the executive branch charged with preventing conflicts of interest, stopped meditating in the office after his departure, he said.

Shaub at the beginning of Trump's tenure said the president's plan to avoid conflicts of interest by having his sons run his business "doesn't meet the standards that the best of his nominees are meeting and that every president in the past four decades has met."

Since leaving his post, Shaub has continued to call out possible ethics violations within the Trump administration by counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway and first daughter Ivanka Trump.

Shaub said that the meditation sessions helped, but stress from the president was "so intense in that period of time, there wasn't anybody after that felt like they weren't stressed anymore."

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Newsweek on Friday.