The Office of Government Ethics has been attempting to chase down Team Trump, who are doing everything in their power to evade, so far, successfully. Is “people who have nothing to hide have nothing to fear” still a thing? If so, it would appear that Team Trump has everything to fear.
New emails reveal that the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) reportedly “lost contact” with President-elect Donald Trump’s team during the ongoing transition to power, despite efforts to warn officials about ethical issues posed by nominees and “blind trusts.”
According to emails uncovered by MSNBC, OGE director Director Walter Shaub contacted Trump aides in November expressing deep frustration with the lack of cooperation between his organization and the president-elect’s team. Shaub reportedly cautioned Trump against creating a blind trust of his business holdings without speaking to the OGE first, noting that the ethics office only considers something a blind trust if its assets have “been sold off”—a very different standard that the “half-blind” trust floated by Trump’s own team. (To date, Trump has not suggested that he will sell off his assets.)
MSNBC noted that the emails, which it obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, included few details regarding any efforts by the president-elect to divest from assets that could result in potential conflicts of interest during his presidency.
Shaub also argued that Trump’s staff was risking “embarrassment” by refusing to allow the ethics office to review the financial records of potential cabinet selections before they were announced, saying some could potentially violate federal law.
“They run the risk of having inadvertently violated the criminal conflicts of interest restriction at 18 USC 208,” Shaub wrote. “If we don’t get involved early to prevent problems, we won’t be able to help them after the fact.”
The tension may explain the OGE’s effort to troll Trump on Twitter in late November.
Look, a bonus Sunday Facepalm! The only way to maybe get the Pendejo-elect’s attention is to troll him on Twitter. For fuck’s sake. Even some conservatives are appalled:
Unprecedented and deeply dangerous if McConnell jams through Cabinet nominees who have not been vetted by the Office of Government Ethics
— Norman Ornstein (@NormOrnstein) January 7, 2017
Yes. And not only that, but McConnell’s deep hypocrisy is on show as well:
The Republican-controlled U.S. Senate plans to rush forward this week with confirmation hearings for many of Donald Trump’s nominees for cabinet and other key executive positions. Though many of the picks have not yet completed the customarily required ethics clearances and background checks, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has shown no willingness to delay.
But back in 2009, McConnell took the exact opposite view. A letter to then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), posted on Twitter by Citizens for Responsible Ethics in Washington co-founder and former Obama administration ethics adviser Norm Eisen on Sunday, shows he demanded that “financial disclosures must be complete” before any confirmation hearings be scheduled.
How things change, eh?