Saturday, January 7, 2017

Trump ignores ethics office

Guess what else is on Trump's dustbin of history? Ethics rules:

The office tasked with overseeing ethics and conflicts in the federal government struggled to gain access to leaders of the Trump transition team, and warned Trump aides about making decisions on nominees or blind trusts without ethics guidance, according to new emails obtained by MSNBC.
Office of Government Ethics Director Walter Shaub emailed Trump aides in November to lament that despite his office's repeated outreach, "we seem to have lost contact with the Trump-Pence transition since the election."
Trump aides may also be risking "embarrassment for the President-elect," Shaub warned, by "announcing cabinet picks" without letting the ethics office review their financial information in advance.
(Shaub here presupposes that Trump is capable of embarrassment, something that is more than likely false.)
The perils for White House staff were even more severe, Shaub argued, because they might begin their jobs without crucial ethics guidance, raising a risk of inadvertently breaking federal rules.
"They run the risk of having inadvertently violated the criminal conflicts of interest restriction at 18 USC 208," Shaub wrote, citing a federal conflicts law in an email to Trump Transition aide Sean Doocey.
"If we don't get involved early to prevent problems," he added, "we won't be able to help them after the fact."
(Shaub forgets that for Trumpers, there are no legal problems unless they involve emails from a Clinton account.)
Shaub also warned that if Trump tried to create his own "blind trust" without the ethics office, the effort could be dead on arrival.
(How soon after his inauguration will Trump shut down the Ethics office?)
The government might decide potential trustees were not independent, he cautioned, if Trump aides talked to them "before consulting" with the ethics office.
In contrast to most proposals floated by the Trump transition team, Shraub added that the ethics office only considers a trust blind if its underlying assets have "been sold off."
In his public remarks, Trump has mostly focused on who would manage the Trump Organization. He has not suggested he would divest, or sell off its assets.
The emails were obtained through a Freedom of Information Request from MSNBC and The James Madison Project, and represented by the law office of Mark S. Zaid.
(Savor the moment---this might be the last FOIA request to be fulfilled ---except perhaps for those involving Clinton emails.)

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