Senate

Key Dem wants details on Trump team’s ethics compliance

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) is demanding the Trump administration hand over details on the president’s ethics pledge and how the White House is enforcing it. 

McCaskill — the top Democrat on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee — sent a seven-page letter to Don McGahn, the White House counsel, arguing that the administration has weakened Obama-era ethics rules and limited transparency. 
 
“These developments raise serious concerns that the Trump administration is creating an environment where its appointees do not need to meet the highest ethical standards in conducting government business,” McCaskill wrote in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Hill. 
 
{mosads}McCaskill is asking McGahn to hand over details tied to how administration officials are complying by March 15, including releasing a copy of all signed ethics pledges by Senate-confirmed officials. McCaskill sent the letter on March 1 but has not yet received a response.
 
She also wants a list of executive appointees — including White House officials — who have not signed an executive pledge, who lobbied their executive agencies within the past two years or who are included in any documents related to individuals requesting a waiver from the administration’s ethics rules. 
 
“President Trump’s executive order, which supersedes its predecessor, does not include any provision requiring public reporting on compliance with his ethics pledge or public disclosures of waivers granted to appointees by the president or his designee,” McCaskill wrote. 
 
She added that “it is unclear how Trump intends to ensure accountability with his own ethics pledge by stripping [the Office of Government Ethics’s] reporting requirements from his executive order.”
 
McCaskill also wants a copy of any ethics waivers that have been approved. 
 
The Trump administration rolled out an executive order in late January that placed a five-year ban on executive officials lobbying the agencies they worked for. 
 
The ethics pledge also bars former lobbyists who join the Trump administration from participating in “any particular matter involving specific parties that is directly and substantially” tied to their former boss or clients or participating “in any particular matter on which I lobbed” for two years. 
 
White House press secretary Sean Spicer defended the administration’s ethics record during a press briefing Friday, saying Trump has “been very committed to making sure that we institute high standards here.” 

“This president, when it comes to ethics and when it comes to lobbying, he instituted a five-year ban. He banned people — he has ran on a commitment to drain the swamp,” he added. 

But his administration has been criticized as weakening Obama-era rules on former lobbyists joining the administration. 

McCaskill is also asking for details on any guidance given by the Office of Government Ethics on the administration’s ethics rules, including on developing or implementing the guidelines, and a list of any changes the White House plans to make to the executive order. 

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