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Government ethics agency: We ‘seem to have lost contact’ with the Trump team

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The government agency in charge of overseeing ethics in the federal government and policing conflicts of interest has struggled to contact members of President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team since Election Day.

In emails obtained by MSNBC, Office of Government Ethics (OGE) Director Walter Shaub wrote that his agency’s attempts at outreach to the incoming administration have been met with silence.

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“We seem to have lost contact with the Trump-Pence transition since the election,” Shaub said.

In a letter to Trump advisers, Shaub warned that by announcing its cabinet picks without proper vetting by the ethics office, the team runs the risk of causing “embarrassment for the President-elect.”

Requirements for White House aides are even more stringent with regards to conflicts of interest and incoming aides to Trump may be in violation of federal law.

“They run the risk of having inadvertently violated the criminal conflicts of interest restriction at 18 USC 208,” Shaub wrote.

Furthermore, he said, “If we don’t get involved early to prevent problems,” he added, “we won’t be able to help them after the fact.”

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Throughout history, U.S. presidents have placed their assets in a so-called “blind trust” for the duration of their presidency. Trump and his advisors have made vague public statements about the Trust, saying it would be managed by the former reality TV star’s adult children.

This is far from adequate, said Shaub. The ethics office only considers a trust blind when its assets have been “sold off” and liquidated.

The emails were obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by federal employment lawyer Bradley Moss. They show a confused tangle of unanswered queries, delayed responses and comments that Trump and his legal team are hard to reach and nearly impossible to “pin down” on issues.

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Moss said that the emails show a surprising lack of interest on the part of the Trump team in divestment of assets to avoid conflicts of interest.

“Conspicuously absent is any evidence of the preparations allegedly being undertaken by President-Elect Trump to resolve potential conflicts of interest through some manner of divestment,” Moss said to NBC News.

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He asked, “If the President-Elect’s lawyers and compliance officers are not coordinating with OGE, who, if anyone, within the government are they coordinating on these matters?”

For weeks, Trump has been postponing a planned press conference where he says that he will explain in detail his plan to divest himself of his holdings and hand over his businesses.


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With each passing day Trump’s spin is less capable of distracting Americans from reality: op-ed

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Writing in the Washington Post this Monday, Paul Waldman says that if you want to know the sorry state President Trump's campaign is in, just look at its deteriorating spin machine.

The first example cited by Waldman was Trump's recent attack on his usually supportive top infectious disease expert, Dr. Deborah Birx, for daring to say that the virus' spread isn't going away any time soon. Waldman also listed the numerous statements from Trump that downplay the threat of the virus while pushing the misleading claim that things are just fine.

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Trump openly solicits payment to US treasury for his ‘approval’ of TikTok sale – which he is forcing

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In discussing what he sees as the broad portions of an agreement the President used a real estate term to openly solicit the payment that would have to be made to the U.S. Treasury.

"I said a very substantial portion of that price is going to have to come into the U.S. Treasury of the United States, because we're making it possible for this deal to happen," Trump told reporters Monday afternoon.

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Andrew Cuomo rips Trump like never before: ‘This was the worst government blunder in modern history’

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) on Monday accused President Donald Trump of presiding over "the worse government blunder in modern history."

At his daily COVID-19 briefing, Cuomo said that it was time for the president to hit the "reset button" on his handling of the pandemic.

"If we don't tell the truth on the reset, COVID will never end," the New York governor explained. "It will ricochet across the country. It will just bounce back and forth."

"This was a colossal blunder -- how COVID was handled by this federal government," he continued. "Shame on all of you. Six months, lives lost. Hit the reset button, yes."

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