Walter Shaub told CNBC that before resigning as director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics last July he made it a daily practice to take time out each day with anywhere between six to a dozen or so staffers to meditate using the popular Headspace app.
"It kind of made us strong in weathering a very tumultuous storm at the time," Shaub said. "Of the ones who came regularly, they loved it, and we all seemed to hunger for it."
Shaub, 47, said he raised the idea of meditating with staff — which is definitely not the norm in government offices in Washington, DC — soon after Trump was elected in November 2016.
It quickly became clear then that his presidential transition — and his administration — was going to be significantly more challenging for the ethics office than it was used to.
"We were prepared for the intensity" that happens when a new president prepares to take office, Shaub said.
"We weren't prepared for the chaos in this administration.
"We weren't prepared for the assault on us," said Shaub, who was appointed OGE director in 2013 after joining the office in 2006. "The world, it was just crazy in 2017."
Shaub, whose independent executive-branch office helps officials avoid conflicts of interest, repeatedly butted heads with Trump officials over ethics choices and recommendations, often in a very public way that made him a hero to Trump opponents.
Shaub in a January 2017 speech said that Trump's plan to avoid conflicts by having his sons run his companies "doesn't meet the standards that the best of his nominees are meeting and that every president in the past four decades has met."
Shaub said Trump should sell his varied business interests. The president ignored that advice. Shaub also criticized the White House for not disciplining senior Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway for encouraging people to buy clothes sold by Ivanka Trump's fashion line.