House Oversight chair asks government ethics official to appear before committee

House Republican summons ethics chief
House Republican summons ethics chief

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Story highlights

  • Democrats on the Oversight committee have urged Jason Chaffetz to look at Donald Trump's business dealings
  • Ranking Democrat Elijah Cummings wrote a letter to Chaffetz published Thursday

(CNN)Rather than investigate potential conflicts of interest posed by Donald Trump's businesses, House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz has asked the head of the Office of Government Ethics, who has been vocally critical of Trump, to meet with the committee to discuss his views on President-elect's plan to settle any potential conflicts of interest.

Walter Shaub, the head of the OGE, was invited for a "transcribed interview" with the panel, a committee aide told CNN Thursday.
Shaub on Wednesday criticized Trump's announcement laying out how he planned to structure his business holdings before being sworn in as president ‎on January 20.
    No date has been set for the session yet, the aide told CNN.
    The Wall Street Journal first reported on Shaub's appearance before the panel.
    Democrats on the Oversight committee have urged Chaffetz to look into issues surrounding Trump's business interests, but earlier this week Chaffetz told reporters that he wasn't planning to weigh into the debate because the President-elect was still a private citizen. ‎But the Utah Republican also said he wasn't planning to serve as a "cheerleader" for Trump.
    Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, ranking Democratic member of the Oversight Committee, sent a letter to Chaffetz requesting that the panel hear from Shaub in public.
    "I believe it is imperative that Director Shaub be permitted to testify in public -- before the American people -- to avoid any perception that he is being unfairly targeted behind closed doors for expressing his views," Cummings wrote.
    Sen. Charles Schumer tweeted, House GOP attempts to take down yet another independent federal ethics org; intimidates OGE mid review of next admin."
    Speaking at the Brookings Institution in Washington, Shaub said Trump's plan to separate himself from his business interests doesn't follow the tradition of presidents from the past four decades.
    "This is not a blind trust," he said. "It's not even close."
    Shaub's office is not an enforcement agency, but it advises executive branch officials about how to avoid conflicts. It's the office combing through the financial holdings of Trump's Cabinet nominees to look for problems.
    Earlier Wednesday, Trump announced that he would place his vast business holdings in a trust controlled by his adult sons, Don Jr. and Eric, and that he would relinquish his leadership of the Trump Organization.
    The Office of Government Ethics had no immediate comment.