GOP Congressman Threatens To Subpoena Ethics Watchdog Critical Of Trump
WASHINGTON (dpa-AFX) - Following public criticism of President-elect Donald Trump's plan to address conflicts of interest, the head of the independent federal ethics office is being called on to explain his comments to Congress.
House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, sent a letter Thursday requesting Office of Government Ethics Director Walter Shaub participate in an interview with his committee's staff and suggested the official could face a subpoena if he does not comply.
"He seems to be acting prematurely at best, without doing investigations or thorough looks," Chaffetz said of Shaub in an interview with Politico.
"He's rendering opinions publicly that really cause you to scratch your head," the congressman added. "We need the Office of Government Ethics to act ethically. Ironically, that's not what they're doing."
Chaffetz told Politico the interview is not an "optional exercise" and said he would issue a subpoena "if we have to."
The request from Chaffetz comes after Shaub criticized Trump's plan to turn over control of his business empire to his adult sons without divesting his holdings.
"Stepping back from running his business is meaningless from a conflict of interest perspective," Shaub said in remarks at the Brookings Institution on Wednesday.
"The idea of setting up a trust to hold his operating businesses adds nothing to the equation," he added. "This is not a blind trust-it's not even close."
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., accused Chaffetz of attempting to bully Shaub out of doing his job.
Schumer noted the latest move comes after House Republicans were forced to reverse course on a proposal critics claimed would have gutted the Office of Congressional Ethics.
"Mr. Chaffetz's attempt to intimidate the office is deplorable, and would be a distraction that would make it harder for OGE to do it's already difficult job," Schumer said in a statement.
He continued, "It is totally out of line when Americans want clean and accountable government. Mr. Chaffetz should instead focus on his job and let Mr. Shaub and OGE focus on theirs."
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