Politics

House Democrats: Investigate Trump Businesses

| by Robert Fowler

House Democrats have delivered an urgent request to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman, Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah, to investigate President-elect Donald Trump's potential conflicts of interests before he assumes office.

On Nov. 28, all 17 Democratic members of the Oversight Committee signed a letter addressed to Chaffetz, demanding that the GOP lawmaker finally respond to a request made two weeks beforehand by Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland to investigate the Trump business empire, The Washington Post reports.

"Although you have stated publicly that you will hold Mr. Trump to the same standards as President Obama and Secretary Clinton … you have not taken steps to conduct basic oversight of these unprecedented challenges," the Democrats wrote.

Instead of placing his businesses into a blind trust, Trump has instead opted to transfer ownership to his three eldest children, who are all serving on his White House transition team, according to The Hill.

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Based on Trump's financial disclosures, the president-elect has 144 individual companies that operate in roughly 25 countries across the globe, according to CNN.

While Trump is set to become commander-in-chief, his children will be managing ongoing business interests in countries such as China, India, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Because the president-elect has declined to release his tax returns, there is no way to determine the full reach of his business empire.

On Nov. 23, Trump dismissed concerns that his refusal to place his finances into a blind trust could result in a conflict of interest.

"As far as the ... potential conflicts of interests, though, I mean I know that from the standpoint, the law is totally on my side, meaning, the president can't have a conflict of interest," Trump told The New York Times. "That's been reported very widely. ... I've built a very great company and it's a big company and it's all over the world."

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House Democrats warned Chaffetz that Trump's assertion is incorrect.

"Mr. Trump can — and already does — have obvious conflicts of interest between his widespread global business interests and his Constitutional obligations as president," the Democrats wrote.

The Democratic lawmakers requested that Chaffetz launch an investigation into Trump's business interests and to demand the release of his tax returns. They also asked that Chaffetz treat the matter with the same amount of urgency that he had had when he had launched investigations into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's record during the presidential race.

"You acted with unprecedented urgency to hold emergency hearings and issue multiple unilateral subpoenas to investigate Secretary Clinton before the election," the Democrats concluded. "We ask that you show the same sense of urgency now."

On Nov. 15, Chaffetz signaled that he would treat Trump with the same amount of scrutiny that he would have given to Clinton had she won the election.

"Of course, that's our job and responsibility," Chaffetz told The Daily Caller. "Our committee was founded in 1814 to oversee all expenditures by the executive branch, no matter who the president is. ... Just because there was a political election doesn't mean we let off the gas pedal."

On Nov. 22, Chaffetz received a plea from his home state's largest newspaper, The Salt Lake Tribune, to investigate Trump's finances .

"Chaffetz … and the American people need to know if Trump will, or even might be tempted to, manage domestic, foreign, military and trade policy in ways that put his own interests ahead of those of the nation or its people," the newspaper's editorial team wrote in an op-ed.

The newspaper editorial team added that Chaffetz and the GOP-controlled Oversight Committee must treat the transition period as a time to "shift from investigating people who no longer hold power to people who do. No matter which party they belong to."

Sources: CNNThe Daily CallerThe Hill, The New York Times, The Salt Lake TribuneThe Washington Post / Photo credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

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