In emails obtained by MSNBC, it appears President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team brushed off contact with the Office of Government Ethics and was warned about not looking to the office for guidance over it’s announced Cabinet picks.
The office’s director, Walter Shaub, noted in several emails that they couldn’t seem to get in contact with anyone within the Trump circle and explained that they could be setting themselves up for embarrassment by not conferring with the ethics office over its nominees.
Office of Government Ethics Director Walter Shaub emailed Trump aides in November to lament that despite his office’s repeated outreach, “we seem to have lost contact with the Trump-Pence transition since the election.”
Shaub also sent out emails about possible conflicts of interest for new White House staff members, saying these new hires could run the risk of inadvertently breaking the law if they hadn’t been briefed on ethics guidelines, writing that the office wouldn’t “be able to help them after the fact.”
The issue of Trump creating a blind trust for his business interests without seeking advice from ethics officers was also brought up, saying that efforts by the Trump team to create one could be moot because the government wouldn’t consider trustees independent if Trump didn’t consult the office. Also, Shaub stated that a trust can only be blind if assets were “sold off,” which it appears Trump is trying to avoid.
MSNBC received the info via a FOIA request and was provided with hundreds of pages of correspondence between the Trump team and the ethics office. Additional emails showed the difficulties the office had in getting in touch with Trump’s counsel, along with a lack of anything from the Trump team regarding the president-elect divesting from his businesses.
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