Friday, January 13, 2017

Republicans are threatening the head of the Office of Government Ethics for criticizing Trump

 
House Republicans are finally doing something about President-elect Trump’s conflicts of interest with the presidency: Going after the independent ethics office for commenting on them.

On Wednesday, President-elect Donald Trump announced his plan to maintain full ownership of his businesses. His lawyer stated Trump would place his companies in a “trust” to be managed by his sons.

He did not reveal even the most basic facts about how the trust would operate, although the companies will continue to pursue new deals domestically and accept payments from foreign governments.

More details were allegedly contained in stacks of folders Trump dramatically piled beside the lectern, but reporters were not permitted to examine their contents. Some suspect the pages were blank.

On Wednesday, President-elect Donald Trump announced his plan to maintain full ownership of his businesses. His lawyer stated Trump would place his companies in a “trust” to be managed by his sons.

He did not reveal even the most basic facts about how the trust would operate, although the companies will continue to pursue new deals domestically and accept payments from foreign governments.

More details were allegedly contained in stacks of folders Trump dramatically piled beside the lectern, but reporters were not permitted to examine their contents. Some suspect the pages were blank.

President-elect Donald Trump speaks as one of his attorneys listens during a news conference, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017 CREDIT: AP Photo/Seth Wenig

Trump’s “plan” falls well short of the recommendations of the nonpartisan Office of Government Ethics, which has repeatedly urged Trump to divest from his businesses and place his assets in a blind trust, which is the standard every other modern president has met. On Wednesday, OGE Directer Walter M. Shaub Jr. commented at the Brookings Institute on Trump’s plan.

“I think Politico called this a ‘half-blind’ trust, but it’s not even halfway blind,” said Shaub, explaining that Trump’s plan is contrary to the OGE’s advice and does little to actually prevent conflicts of interest.


“It’s important to understand that the President is now entering the world of public service. He’s going to be asking his own appointees to make sacrifices. He’s going to be asking our men and women in uniform to risk their lives in conflicts around the world. So, no, I don’t think divestiture is too high a price to pay to be President of the United States of America,” said Shaub.

House Oversight Committee Chair Chaffetz (R-UT), then sent a letter to Shaub summoning him to Capitol Hill and accusing him of “blurring the line between public relations and official ethics guidance.”

In the letter, he also reminds Shaub that the House Oversight Committee has jurisdiction over his office — and that they’re “up for reauthorization” — which some interpreted as a threat to defund or close the office.

“OGE’s statutory authorization lapsed at the end of fiscal year 2007 and the Committee has jurisdiction in the House of Representatives for reauthorizing the office,” he writes.

   Read full post here

 

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