Only a week after Election Day, with House Republicans still planning continued investigations of Hillary Clinton’s time at the State Department, Democrats on the oversight panel are firing off their own requests for probes of President-elect Donald Trump.
On Monday, Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., ranking member of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, wrote to panel Chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, requesting a “review” of Trump’s financial arrangements “to ensure that he does not have any actual or perceived conflicts of interest and that he and his advisers comply with all legal and regulatory ethical requirements when he assumes the presidency.”
Numerous press reports have detailed the global reach of the billionaire hotel builder’s financial empire. Coupling that with his plan to have his adult children continue to run the Trump companies even as they participate in the presidential transition process has raised eyebrows.
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“We have never had a president like Mr. Trump in terms of his vast financial entanglements and his widespread business interests around the globe,” Cummings wrote. “Moreover, we have not had a presidential candidate in modern times who has refused to disclose his tax returns to the American people. Mr. Trump’s unprecedented secrecy and his extensive business dealings in foreign countries raise serious questions about how he intends to avoid conflicts of interest as president.”
Scoffing at Trump’s plan to put his vast holdings in something past presidents called a “blind trust,” Cummings reminded Chaffetz that the Oversight panel has jurisdiction over laws and rules on financial conflicts of interest by federal employees asking him to invite a Trump representative to "hear from them directly” as soon as possible.
Cummings’ turnabout-is-fair-play move ended more directly. “For the past six years, you and other Republicans in Congress have launched numerous investigations against President Obama and Secretary Clinton, and some of these have been used for partisan political purposes, as Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy admitted regarding the Benghazi Committee,” Cummings wrote. “Now that Republicans control the White House and Congress, it is incumbent on you and other Republicans to conduct robust oversight over Mr. Trump—not for partisan reasons, but to ensure that our government operates effectively and efficiently and combats even the perception of corruption or abuse.”
Asked whether he will honor Cummings’ request, Chaffetz's staff did not respond by publication time.
Cummings, meanwhile, on Tuesday, wrote to Trump’s newly appointed future White House chief of staff Reince Priebus to look into press reports that the Trump team was considering what Cummings called the “highly unusual” step of applying for security clearances for Trump’s adult children, who are not federal employees. The Trump campaign has thus far denied the reports.
The congressman’s letter asks Priebus to reply,by Nov. 23,as to the scope of the alleged plans to request such clearances, and provide as well an “explanation of how conflicts of interest would be avoided with respect to their duties running Mr. Trump’s corporate entities.”