Office of Government Ethics 'Lost Contact' With Trump Team

It's concerned that his cabinet appointees aren't being vetted
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 7, 2017 3:09 PM CST
The nonpartisan Office of Government Ethics has concerns about Donald Trump and his cabinet nominees.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

(Newser) – "We seem to have lost contact with the Trump-Pence transition since the election," Walter Shaub wrote in an email to Trump aides in November, CNBC reports. The email from the director of the nonpartisan Office of Government Ethics was made public Saturday amid growing concerns about what Shaub says are "potentially unknown or unresolved ethics issues" with Trump's cabinet choices, according to Politico. The Trump team failed to clear any of his cabinet nominees with the OGE prior to announcing them, which Shaub says has forced staff to "rush through these important reviews" meant to help cabinet appointees avoid potentially criminal conflicts of interest when they start work.

A whole bunch of Trump's nominees are scheduled for confirmation hearings in the next two weeks, and Shaub warns many won't have undergone ethics reviews by that time. He says he's unaware of this ever happening before and warns it could lead to both "embarrassment" for Trump and appointees accidentally breaking federal rules. "If we don't get involved early to prevent problems, we won't be able to help them after the fact," he says. The DNC wants the hearings delayed, the Hill reports. Sen. Charles Schumer calls the confirmation schedule "unprecedented" and Trump's nominees "unvetted." The American people deserve to know that these cabinet nominees...[are] working on behalf of the American people and not their own bottom line," Schumer says. (Read more Donald Trump stories.)

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