The Office of Government Ethics has reportedly had difficulty getting access to Donald Trump’s transition team according to new emails acquired by several media outlets, including CNBC. The office’s main frustration seems to deal with them being worried the team will make hasty decisions regarding nominees or blind trusts without first consulting them.
The Trump transition team has faced some roadblocks since the November election. The team is reportedly behind schedule and Trump appears to be more concerned with The Apprentice ratings than intelligence briefings. And now, the team is not returning the Ethics Office’s emails. In emails obtained by MSNBC, through the Freedom of Information Request, office director Walter Shaub wrote they have “lost contact” with the team and that by announcing cabinet picks without being consulted they are risking “embarrassment for the President-elect.” And he noted the team are not only risking Trump’s integrity but their own:
“They run the risk of having inadvertently violated the criminal conflicts of interest restriction at 18 USC 208. If we don’t get involved early to prevent problems…we won’t be able to help them after the fact.”
Other emails to the team concern how Trump is going to handle dealing with his assets once he enters the White House. There has been some confusion on what Trump will do with his businesses, with one idea putting them into a blind trust. But a memo from the Ethics Office says his businesses would not count as a blind trust under its guidelines:
“Only readily marketable assets can be placed in a diversified trust (i.e., cannot place closely held businesses in the trust),” one memo the ethics office drafted for a transition team briefing says. “Trustee must be an institution and fully independent (cannot be a relative). A relative cannot be employed by the trust (i.e., in any businesses owned by the trust) … Settlor must relinquish all control of assets.”
The inauguration is right around the corner, and Trump’s transition team appears to be moving at a less than desired pace.