House Dems Press Chaffetz For Oversight Of Trump's Business Conflicts

J. Scott Applewhite

All 17 Democrats on the House Oversight Committee called on committee chair Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) to review President-elect Donald Trump’s business ties Monday, two weeks after ranking member Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) made his original request for such a review.

“Although you have stated publicly that you will hold Mr. Trump to the same standards as President Obama and Secretary Clinton, you have not responded to Ranking Member Cummings’ letter, and you have not taken steps to conduct basic oversight of these unprecedented challenges," a letter from the Democrats reads.

Cummings' initial Nov. 14 letter to Chaffetz stated that “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.”

The latest letter from committee Democrats, which is many pages longer than Cummings’ original request, cites “troubling new revelations about Mr. Trump’s actions” that it asserts make congressional oversight “even more urgent.”

Specifically, the letter notes Trump has refused to put his assets in a blind trust and has shown indifference to charges that his business relationships may present conflicts of interest in his presidency. It cites an interview with the New York Times in which Trump claimed “The law’s totally on my side, the president can’t have a conflict of interest.”

“Of course, this statement is incorrect,” the letter continues, before citing experts, including top ethics lawyers for Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, who have called on Trump to address the conflicts presented by his business dealings.

“We also ask that the Committee formally request that Mr. Trump provide the Oversight Committee with copies of his tax returns,” the letter concludes.

Before he was re-elected to Congress, Chaffetz promised his constituents that he would hold the president-elect accountable, whether it was Trump or Hillary Clinton.

“I don’t care who is in the White House. My Job is not to be a cheerleader for the president. My job is to hold them accountable and to provide that oversight,” the letter quotes Chaffetz as saying in August during an interview with CNN’s Jim Sciutto.

Chaffetz told the Washington Post after Election Day that he would continue investigating Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server while she was secretary of state, saying “I still have a duty and obligation to get to the truth about one of the largest breaches of security at the State Department."

The following Monday, he told KUTV of Trump, “I have a duty and an obligation to provide oversight and hold him accountable.”

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