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Ethics reviews incomplete for several of Trump’s picks

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington.

WASHINGTON >> Several of President-elect Donald Trump’s Cabinet choices have not completed a full review to avoid conflicts of interest, the government’s ethics office says, even as Republican senators move quickly to hold at least nine confirmation hearings next week.

In a letter to Senate leaders, the director of the Office of Government Ethics described the current status of several nominees, some of whom are billionaires and millionaires, in the ethics process and expressed concern about the lack of ethics reviews just days from committee hearings.

The Associated Press obtained a copy of Walter Shaub’s letter.

“During this presidential transition, not all of the nominees presently scheduled for hearings have completed the ethics review process. In fact, OGE has not received even initial draft financial disclosure reports for some of the nominees scheduled for hearings,” Shaub wrote to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.

A copy of the letter also was provided to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

Republicans are intent on getting as many of Trump’s choices through the arduous confirmation process as quickly as possible so his team will be in place soon after Trump takes the oath of office on Jan. 20. Democrats have complained that the GOP is moving too fast and that they lack information about some of the wealthiest Americans to serve a president.

Schumer said in a statement Saturday that the letter “makes crystal clear that the transition team’s collusion with Senate Republicans to jam through these cabinet nominees before they’ve been thoroughly vetted is unprecedented.”

The forms in question are financial disclosures certified by the ethics office and also written ethics agreements between the nominee and the office that identify potential conflicts of interest and the ways in which the nominee will resolve those conflicts. They are required by the Ethics in Government Act of 1978, passed after the Watergate scandal.

One of the committees that hasn’t yet received the forms is the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, which has scheduled a hearing next week for Betsy DeVos, Trump’s pick to lead the Education Department.

Committee aides said the panel held hearings for former Education Secretary Roderick Paige and former Labor Secretary Elaine Chao before they received the same forms in 2001, and that they received the documents days after each of those hearings. Both were confirmed to serve in President George W. Bush’s Cabinet.

That committee’s rules state that the committee cannot hold a vote on the nominee without the ethics form. In a statement, the committee chairman, Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said the committee is going to “follow the Golden Rule and use the same procedures for these nominees that we did in 2001 for President Bush’s nominees and in 2009 for President Obama’s nominees.”

Aides to the Senate Judiciary and Foreign Relations committees said they had received the ethics forms for Sen. Jeff Sessions, Trump’s pick for attorney general, and Rex Tillerson, Trump’s choice for secretary of state. A spokeswoman for the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee said they had also received the forms for Chao, whom Trump has picked as his transportation secretary.

Shaub did not list which of Trump’s Cabinet choices hadn’t turned in their disclosures. But other confirmation hearings next week include Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., for director of the Central Intelligence Agency; retired Marine Gen. John Kelly for homeland security secretary; Ben Carson for housing secretary; Wilbur Ross for commerce secretary; and retired Gen. James Mattis for defense secretary.

Committees handling those nominations did not return a request for comment on the records.

In the letter, Shaub said the lack of disclosure has left some of the nominees “with potentially unknown or unresolved ethics issues” just before their scheduled hearings.

He said the intensive process of checking nominees and creating the agreements has been complicated by the packed Senate hearing schedule and Trump’s announcements of his future nominees before consulting the office for evaluation of ethics issues. Traditionally, a president or president-elect’s picks have not been announced until the office has already cleared the nominees, Shaub said.

“In the past, the ethics work was fully completed prior to the announcement of nominees in the overwhelming majority of cases,” Shaub wrote.

Shaub was appointed by President Barack Obama to a five-year term in 2013 to lead the office, which is an independent agency within the government. He had worked at the office for several years before that, including during the Republican Bush administration. The office attracted attention in November when it tweeted congratulations to Trump for a “total divestiture” that he had not promised.

Under divestiture, an incoming federal official can sell off massive investments, defer paying capital gains and house the proceeds in Treasury bonds or diversified mutual funds.

But Trump had not then confirmed — and still hasn’t — that he will turn over any assets as part of a divestiture.

Trump is expected to discuss the future of his business at a news conference Wednesday, the same day as many of the confirmation hearings.

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  • Republicans don’t need no stinking ethics reviews. Everyone knows ethics are just for sissies. Meet the new swamp ten times as big as the old swamp. Enjoy your victory republicans. I know Putin, your hero does. 🙂

    Hay Sarge how do you like being allied with Putin?

    • With Donald Trump up to his ears in debt to German and Russian banks “Make America Great Again” comes in second to “Make Russia Great Again.”

      • agree…Americans were very reckless voting for this fraud. He is nothing but a funny man at the circus. No wonder his bad picks cannot complete their ethics investigations. The entire thing is deplorable.

        • Mr Trump is doing great. He has appointed some tough guys to take care of his light work. Putin is already backing off as Obama departs. Nothing wrong with that It will be nice to have a beautiful family in the White House.

        • Sarge: “It will be nice to have a beautiful family in the White House.”

          Yes, a serial adulterer, sex offender and tax-dodger as President, and an Eastern-European nude model half his age, who snuck into the country to work illegally, as our new First Lady. Beautiful. Classy.

          #MAGA? (Make America Grope-crotches Again? Make America Green-card-free Again?)

          Dirty Donald Dumpster is creepy. Big league.

          Ivanka and Jared are the most likeable family members. Sad.

    • Trump is the master con artist, and now the GOP will be accomplices in his plan to destroy this country. Expect a very contentious year with the Democrats fighting tooth and nail to prevent Trump from turning the government into his own personal oligarchial dictatorship.

        • 8 years of whining from all you scabs. We don’t take anything you losers say serious. President Trump(thats right, President, get used to saying it)will never make you scabs happy but so what, your pain is his gain.

        • Spoken like a true puppet as always earhole. Seems like the jokes on all you Democrap crybabies.

        • So meathead, how do you like your new ally, Putin?

          Always knew you were a bit pinko. Thanks for the verification.

        • Boots
          From what I have read, I would not call Putin a “pinko”, assuming this means communist-leaning in his economic and political beliefs.

      • IRT Ronin006, completely agree with your post. Have experienced a number of friends with PTSD and you hit the nail on the head. What requires study is Peter (aka Boots), OldDiver, Krusha, and others are posting Fake News, where individuals with PTSD normally go silent. Could it be election results PTSD? If it is, the disease can become very serious.

        • lol, Kuroiwaj, what fake news have I posted? That you are an ally of Putin? Have you read the intelligence report that recently came out? Like it or not, you are an ally of Putin. By the way nothing wrong with this and frankly is a positive point in the Donald’s favor. I appreciate having a republican president who will not be looking upon Russia as an evil empire.

          Fact remains though that he is your ally and probably the only one willing to lend the Donald money although that might change since he put a for sale sign on the white house web site. Enjoy the new republican swamp. 10 times as big and twice as deep. lol

    • Yes the swamp needs to be drained so that it can be expanded ten times for the new swamp. lol Enjoy your new leader Putin. He will be giving the Donald lessons on how to steal future elections. Amazing how anyone could believe such propaganda.

      • So much for “draining the swamp”, whatever that meant to Trump’s pathetic supporters. Trump is circumventing ethics inquiries for his cabinet choices so his own cesspool of conflicts doesn’t look so bad by comparison.

  • worried about americans with incomplete ethics reviews, yet, somehow unconcerned that obama is importing 100,000 muslims into america with incomplete to no vetting at all.

    make america safe again.

    • I am not concerned about Obama importing 100,000 Muslims into the United States. I will be when The Donald takes over. Republicans don’t like government and please don’t forget who was in charge when 9/11 happened. (A republican who used his daily briefing memos as TP) The Donald appears to be following suit.

      • Without all these Dumbocrats we’d have nothing to laugh at on a daily basis. I’d like to be the first to thank all the sour grape dumbocrats for their daily dose humor. It is a great start to a morning.

        TRUMP!!! #MAGA

        • Just remember under the “dumbocrats” the stock market went from under 7000 to now around 20000. We shall see how it does after a couple of years of Voodoo economics as practiced by the Donald. If it drops to under15000 with unemployment rising to 10% who will you consider dumb? Oh, I know it will still be Obama’s fault. lol

        • O inherited an economy on the verge of crashing totally because of the criminally blatant policies of the dems., that forced the banking system to grant home loans to anyone who could walk and breathe at the same time. Then the co-conspirators had them marked up as ‘AAA” so that the unsuspecting would buy them, thinking they were a good investment.
          This started with Carter and was continued with clinton. Bush 43 tried to stop it, but was blocked by the dems. in the senate. It wasn’t a coincidence that the bottom fell out in Oct., ’08, just before the election.

        • Sarge has a point, sort of. Its not just W’s fault.

          The housing bubble and great recession were a result of numerous poor policy decisions and failures by leaders of both parties, and laws signed by all presidents for the past 30 years.

          BTW, these unhealthy fiscal and tax policies are still in place and what Trump is proposing will just make things worse. And when the next recession comes, the Fed Reserve has no ability left to provide quayside easing.

          #MAGA? (Make America Go-down-the-drain Again?)

        • I think that might be one of the advantages of the Donald. He seems to be against American intervention. But insecurity will increase with the practice of voodoo or socialism for the rich.

  • Thats the problem with democrats, they can’t keep up. Trump is moving too fast? How else is he supposed to get his cabinet set? Maybe the dens need to put in more time, you know, work!

    • lol, spoken by someone from a party that only worked something like 111 days in 2016. I understand. Tell me Nalo, what do you like best about republicans? Their ability to balance the budget or their love of Putin?

        • No, just spoken by someone who is tired of republican hypocrisy. Who would have thought that republicans are allies of Putin. I never would have guessed. God to think, it wasn’t that long ago when republicans referred to Russia as the evil empire. Now they want in.

      • Explain why the truth brought about by the leaks hurt democracy? If the emails were fake, which Podesta has confirmed they are real, then I would be more concerned. All this did was give all the information so people could make up their mind. I think if this came out after the election it would have been devastating to our country! If Clinton had, the first order of business would be Sanders siding the DNC and Hillary being prosecuted.

        • According to the report, it goes beyond leaks. There was a lot of false news published before the election. People like you for example who rely upon the national enquire received a lot of baloney news. But that is ok. The Donald will be our next president and we shall see how well he does. Are you all set for republican Voodoo Nalo?

          Just don’t be surprised when the deficit increases due to tax cuts for the wealthy and unemployment increases. Tends to happen when republicans get control.

    • Yes the democrats need to be as fast as you republicans. You basically have complained about Obama care, a republican invention for 8 years but have not offered any replacement. Why is this Nalo? Face it you are a member of a do nothing party that is an insult to past republicans like Eisenhower.

      • Last 8 years under obama was like watching the jv team. Still learning how things work, playing together as a team, understanding what it takes to be a leader in the game, realizing it takes hard work and effort to be good at something, and accepting that sometimes one needs to look in the mirror when things go wrong.

        All dumbocrats, take notes the varsity team is on the field and warming up. You just might learn a thing or two.

        TRUMP!! #MAGA

        • lol, yes hopefully the republicans can duplicate Obama’s record. Lets see if the Donald gets the stock market up while keeping the deficit down or if he will be up like the previous republican president and see the market go down? That is the only question worth asking. Will be interesting to see republican excuses if the economy tanks again.

        • “That is the only question worth asking.”

          – This is an important question and will be difficult to hide the economic truth, but its not the only issue. There are other aspects of food governance.

          “Will be interesting to see republican excuses if the economy tanks again.”

          – I predict Republicans faced with economic decline will resort to blaming Democrats, “illegals”, or China. Or they might avoid this by jacking up the deficit and goosing wall street with defence spending and tax cuts, then when they lose power, pin the deficit and debt burden on social programs and “tax and spend democrats”.

      • Did you know that under Ike, the Federal tax rate on the wealthiest Americans’ top income bracket was over 90%?

        This put a lid on greed, reduced risky, unethical and illegal corporate conduct, encouraged a long-term business focus and reinvestment of excess revenue rather than excessive profit taking. Business owners and executives were encouraged to create jobs, to train and retain workers, to provide pensions and health benefits, and to compete on quality not cost cutting.

        This expanded the middle class, reduced reliance on a government safety net, and reduced the need for regulations and red tape.

        Furthermore, this ceilong on annual income eliminated the political donor ckass and its corrosive impact on politics and governance. It forced the elite to compete on reputation, especially their business reputations with employees and customers and communities, rather than crude measure of wealth. The Forbes 500 did not exist.

        With the top income bracket taxed above 90%, competitive owners and executives were forced to channel their energies into gathering social capital and creating meaning by helping their communities.

  • Hypocrisy = Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of KY He is the poster child for “Unethical Behavior” as when he got a sweet deal in a $2.9 billion earmark for KY. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/16/mitch-mcconnell-budget-deal_n_4111387.html

    This pure, backwater, low class, bureaucrat has no shame. He will smile, shake your hand while the other one is shoving a knife in your back.

    It is bureaucrats like this pushing the cause for term limits for all members of the congress and senate. 8 years in any/combined position and you are gone. For the next four years no lobbying, volunteer, nothing. No contact with any other members of congress/senate. You did your time now move on.

      • NanakuliBoss, why are you against the appointment of a WOMAN, of CHINESE ancestry, with a proven track record in high level government service? Your comment suggests you are a sexist, a racist, a bigot and ignorant.

        • Wow! She ticks so may boxes!

          Woman

          Chinese

          Executive

          Wealthy

          Has White Man Fever

          Shags mummies

        • Nothing wrong with appointing a woman of asian ancestry Ron but let me remind you that the Donald promised to drain the swamp, not make it ten times bigger. Oh well, whats wrong with a little nepotism right Ron?

        • Ronin006 – Actually NK’s comment suggests none of those things. You just made your criticism up out of thin air. Why do you make up things like this? Or do you simply not know the meaning of those words?

  • This is a laughable moment! The Slackers of the Democratic party are Grumbling because the Republicans are “Moving Too Fast” and Lack info on the Wealthy Nominees. Scratching my head….. So what the Dems grumble when the Republican speeds up to the process to be ready by Jan 29th? “Up and Running” as Pres. Obama said during his 09 swearing in or would they prefer the Republicans move at a Snails Pace?
    Another laughable moment….The Rich & The Famous, The Wealthy, The Celebrities, All The Tech Giants were the Main donors of the Democratic Party. Really Folks for the Democrat Party to make such a statement is nothing less than Ludicrous. Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

    • lol, moi, we shall see how fast the republicans are. They have had 8 years to propose an answer to Obama care, a republican invention, but haven’t. Now we are to believe they soon will? lol, Great joke for the day.

      • “Obama care, a republican invention”

        If you are referring to “Romney care”, the health plan in Mass implemented under Governor Romney, I think you are misrepresenting it.

        Romney was governor but he worked extensively with his Democratic state legislature to come up with something on which they could all agree.

        It was a bipartisan invention.

        • That is correct, Cricket. Boots and other dumbocrats demonstrating why our educational system is in the tank. They can only spew out what is now referred to as “Fake News”. It is entertaining though.

        • Andrew1 – Oh I get it now. You changed the word Democrats to “dumbocrats” to be funny!

          You are very, very clever! Very!

  • Typical Republican lack of respect for the democratic process.

    Not only is there no transparency for the public to learn about the candidates but our representatives have other committee assignments and cannot vote for all the candidates with such a compressed schedule.

    This is democracy at its worse.

  • All public servants and appointees are subject to Ethics reviews. Nothing new.
    The same in Hawaii, California, NY and Washington DC. All public office holders are subject to full financial disclosure.

  • How much are these trolls paid by the Star Advertiser to post some of these comments? Seriously? Most of the people, I would assume all, that spew vitriol supporting Trump probably wouldn’t even be able to relate to a guy whose friends are in fact other billionaires, or more aptly, Mr. Trump would not even stop to give the time of day to..what is it about this fact that is completely ignored by Mr. Trump’s supporters?

    • Great point…Investigation into some of these Trumpers show they are actually SA people being paid to create some excitement on the boards and divide the country even more….Fake News and Fake People, only way to explain SOME of their answers…#MAGA

    • “…Mr. Trump would not even stop to give the time of day to (little Trumpettes)…”

      Donald J. Trump (the ‘j’ is for Jerk) has no respect for regular working folks. He gets rich by swindling them. Last June, a USA Today investigation found hundreds of people – carpenters, dishwashers, painters, even his own lawyers – who say he didn’t pay them for their work. There are hundreds more. Trump tends to cheat and sue the little guy rather than pay what was agreed, and then he calls this “negotiation”, but really it’s fraud and bullying.

      Then there’s the Trump University scam, and his tax-dodge free loading on those of us who pay our fair share of taxes.

      #MAGA? (Make America Greedy Again?)

      See:
      http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/elections/2016/06/09/donald-trump-unpaid-bills-republican-president-laswuits/85297274/

  • Here’s how “draining the swamp” works for the Trump team: A mismanaged transition team makes last minutes choices without adequate vetting, often with no vetting at all, and Trump appoints some after knowing of them for less than 48 hours. Then Senate Republicans schedule as many as 7 confirmation hearings to happen simultaneously next week in an attempt to overwhelm the fact-based media and deny the public’s right to know about the fitness of Trump’s chosen billionaire pals. Many of these hearings will be conducted before the Office of Government Ethics has completed its review of the nominees, a brazen and unprecedented move attempted by no previous administration. Many of Trump’s appointees have serious ethical lapses in their pasts and major conflicts of interest today, and you can count on the Republican leadership to make sure that the public will learn as little as possible about these nominees.

    • The truly amusing part is how so many of the uninformed unfortunates are claiming we Dems are hypocrites because “we complained Trump was moving too slowly on appointments and now we’re complaining because he’s moving so fast.”

      Fact of the matter, this was a deliberate strategy to telescope the time available for the ethics review. Drumpf knew exactly what he was doing. Hold off on the appointments and then try to jam them all in so there was inadequate time for Congress to vet them properly. Fine, it’s a lame trick and it’ll backfire big time when the scandals start surfacing.

      He and his cronies will end up in history books as the most corrupt administration ever, which is to say, add up the corruption in both the Reagan and Pappy Bush administrations and he’ll beat that total singlehandedly.

    • Also, all of Trump’s appointees have had jobs in the private sector or managed a business. Now what possibly could they contribute? Like know what the real world is like.

  • Glad to see you have come off the fence to stand on the side of decency, reason and pursuit of knowledge (as best ascertained) – the progressive enlightened values of the founding fathers.

    You are correct that the USA has more than one set of ideals, some have argued that there are up to eleven, but there is a basic distinction between honor, objective truth, equality and justice on the one hand, and greed, power, ‘might makes right’ and ‘ends justify the means’ on the other hand.

    #MAGA?

    See:
    http://emerald.tufts.edu/alumni/magazine/fall2013/features/up-in-arms.html

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