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Cummings Objects to Republican Retaliation Against Director of Ethics Office on Trump's Refusal to Divest

Jan 13, 2017
Press Release

Washington D.C. (Jan. 13, 2016)—Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, issued the following statement after Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz publicly attacked the head of the Office of Government Ethics rather than investigating President-Elect Donald Trump's refusal to divest: 

"The Oversight Committee is supposed to protect whistleblowers and independent government watchdogs like the Office of Government Ethics instead of retaliating against them for political reasons. Yesterday, I asked Chairman Chaffetz to hold a public hearing so the American people could hear firsthand from the head of OGE about President-Elect Donald Trump's refusal to divest. Instead, the Chairman chose to attack the Director and demand that he appear for a closed-door interview. This is coming from the same House Republicans who tried to eliminate the Office of Congressional Ethics just days ago. The Oversight Committee has not held one hearing, conducted one interview, or obtained one document about President-Elect Donald Trump's massive global entanglements, yet it is now apparently rushing to launch an investigation of the key government official for warning against the risks caused by President-Elect Donald Trump’s current plans.  Rather than acting as a cheerleader for Donald Trump and attacking or intimidating his critics, the Committee should do its job under the Constitution and investigate his sprawling business deals around the world. I renew my request to the Chairman to open this up to all of America and let the Director of OGE testify in public."

Yesterday, Cummings sent a letter to Chaffetz requesting that the Committee hold a hearing next week for Committee Members and the American people to have the opportunity to hear public testimony from the nation’s top government ethics expert, Walter M. Schaub, Jr., regarding President-Elect Donald Trump’s massive global business entanglements.

Trump announced this week that he plans to defy warnings from Republican and Democratic ethics experts by refusing to do what every previous president has done for decades—divest himself of his corporate ownership interests, liquidate his business assets, and place them in a truly blind trust operated by an independent entity.

In response, Schaub warned that President-Elect Trump’s plan is “wholly inadequate.”  He also stated: “We can’t risk creating the perception that government leaders would use their official positions for profit.”

Chaffetz then sent his own letter to Schaub suggesting that his actions were unethical and demanding that he appear for questioning in a closed-door interview. 

115th Congress