Maryland Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings is urging his Republican colleagues to review President-elect Donald Trump’s plan to put his “financial empire” in a blind trust to avoid conflicts of interest before he takes office.
Cummings, House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform’s (HOGR) ranking minority member, asked HOGR Chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz in a Monday letter to review Trump’s business ties and investments for compliance with federal ethics laws. He expressed particular concern about the incoming chief executive’s blind trust plans and his vow to put day-to-day management of his far-flung business interests in the hands of his adult children.
“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.”
Cummings added that what he called, “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.”
Trump lawyer Michael Cohen said last week that Trump’s three oldest children will control his business dealings through what he called a “blind trust,” but Cummings noted that one day later, the Trump campaign announced those same children will also serve on his transition team. (RELATED: Here Are Five Ways Trump Can Strip The Government Of Waste And #DrainTheSwamp)
“Press reports indicate that Mr. Trump will be relying heavily on his children to operate his financial empire, but these same individuals have played a significant role in his presidential campaign and continue to advise Mr. Trump on his transition team,” Cummings continued. “This is certainly not a ‘blind trust.'”
Trump supporter and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani said during a Sunday CNN interview that Trump can’t do a pure blind trust because doing so would require giving those businesses to an independent person, and “would basically put his children out of work.”
Cummings urged Chaffetz to hold Trump to the same standard of scrutiny as President Barack Obama’s administration. HOGR was a leading force in investigating former Secretary of State and defeated Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton over the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi, and her use of private email addresses and a home-brew server located in her New York mansion to conduct official diplomatic business.
“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,” Cummings said.
Cummings asked Chaffetz to review the incoming president’s finances and invite Trump officials to report their plans for complying with all conflict of interest laws “as soon as possible.”
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