Before Donald Trump takes office on Jan. 20, he will hold his first press conference in almost six months on Jan. 11 to discuss conflicts of interest involving his business empire.
But it’s not just the president-elect who faces ethical questions.
Most of the top nominees for the incoming administration are surrounded by various controversies, which are, understandably, prompting concerns, especially as eight of them await Senate confirmation.
In fact, Trump’s potential cabinet is so controversial that Walter M. Shaub, director of the Office of Government Ethics, reportedly sent a letter to Senators Chuck Schumer of New York and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, saying the task of certifying Trump's Cabinet nominees has “created undue pressure” on his agency.
The most prominent — and troublesome — names in this regard are that of Jeff Sessions, Trump's nominee for attorney general, and Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson, who has been nominated as the next secretary of state.
Sessions is infamous for his anti-immigration, anti-gay marriage and anti-choice stances. He was once deemed too racist to be a federal judge (and now he is poised to head the United States’ Department of Justice.)
Sessions also holds revenue-generating oil interests in Alabama. “Some of the oil reportedly lies below a federal wildlife preserve,” according to the New York Daily News.
“The fact that his oil is in a federal wildlife refuge means he should not be involved in DOJ policies concerning drilling or environmental issues,” said Trevor Potter, an ethics lawyer who has also been an adviser for multiple Republican presidential candidates.
As for Tillerson, he owns more than $50 million of Exxon Mobil stock and holdings in more than 150 other companies. In addition, USA Today reported this week: “ExxonMobil did business with Iran, Syria and Sudan through a European subsidiary while President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of state was a top executive of the oil giant and those countries were under U.S. sanctions as state sponsors of terrorism,” citing Securities and Exchange Commission filings.
And these are just two cabinet appointees. Other problem picks include, Trump’s top aide, Monica Crowley, who was recently accused of plagiarizing multiple sources in her 2012 book “What The (Bleep) Just Happened?”
Despite so many issues and conflicts of interests surrounding so many important members of the incoming administration, Senate Republicans, especially Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky), are rushing the vetting process, dismissing it as “little procedural complaints.”
But not everybody, of course, is onboard with the cavalier approach:
Republicans want to drug test the poor for $100 worth of foodstamps, but are cool with bypassing ethics for millionaires? #NoEthicsNoHearing— The Trump Resistance (@UckfayRumptay) January 10, 2017
Thumbnail/Banner Credits: Reuters