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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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David Letterman jokes ‘enormous fellow’ Donald Trump can ‘eat the restaurant empty’

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The folks over at TMZ caught up David Letterman in Los Angeles this Thursday and asked him his thoughts on which presidential candidate, Donald Trump or Michael Bloomberg, is more fun to have dinner with.

Letterman, who knows both men well, and according to the former late-night talk show host. "there'd be nothing left" on the plate.

"He's such an enormous fellow, he would eat he restaurant empty," Letterman said.

In regards to Bloomberg, Letterman said, "I think he eats like a bird."

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‘Possibly the craziest and scariest thing he has done’: Conservative blasts Trump for DNI Richard Grenell

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Conservative Washington Post columnist Max Boot blasted President Donald Trump's new appointee Richard Grenell to take over as acting director of national intelligence.

Previously, Trump was furious at his acting DNI when he learned that Democrats were given an intelligence briefing. The source speaking to the Post said that Trump gave Maguire a “dressing down” that left the former acting DNI “despondent.”

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FBI investigating Erik Prince for arms trafficking after attempt to modify crop dusters into attack aircraft: report

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The Federal Bureau of Investigation is reportedly investigating prominent Donald Trump supporter Erik Prince for violating arms trafficking laws.

"Prince, an heir to a billion-dollar fortune who is widely viewed as a shadow adviser to the president, is under federal investigation for his 2015 attempt to modify two American-made crop-dusting planes into attack aircraft — a violation of arms trafficking regulations," The Intercept reported Thursday, citing "two people familiar with the investigation."

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