The Trump administration, in a significant escalation of its clash with the government’s top ethics watchdog, has moved to block an effort to disclose the names of former lobbyists who have been granted waivers to work in the White House or federal agencies.
The latest conflict came in recent days when the White House, in a highly unusual move, sent a letter to Walter M. Shaub Jr., the head of the Office of Government Ethics, asking him to withdraw a request he had sent to every federal agency for copies of the waivers. In the letter, the administration challenged his legal authority to demand the information.
.. Dozens of former lobbyists and industry lawyers are working in the Trump administration, which has hired them at a much higher rate than the previous administration. Keeping the waivers confidential would make it impossible to know whether any such officials are violating federal ethics rules or have been given a pass to ignore them.
.. Ethics watchdogs, as well as Democrats in Congress, have expressed concern at the number of former lobbyists taking high-ranking political jobs in the Trump administration. In many cases, they appear to be working on the exact topics they had previously handled on behalf of private-sector clients — including oil and gas companies and Wall Street banks — as recently as January.
In office less than four months, Mr. Trump has already undermined the rule of law in myriad small ways.
He allowed his daughter and son-in-law to work in the White House in arguable violation of an anti-nepotism statute.
- He did not divest himself of his business holdings and
- did not release his tax returns.
- His sons have continued pursuing deals with jillionaires closely linked to unsavory foreign regimes.
- He and his daughter have accepted valuable trademark protections from China.
- His son-in-law’s family sought to trade on their connections to sell American citizenship to rich Chinese.
.. The president made clear his intent to shut down the investigation on Monday when he tweeted, “The Russia-Trump collusion story is a total hoax, when will this taxpayer funded charade end?”
.. Mr. Trump himself now links his decision to fire Mr. Comey to his conviction that “this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story.”
Nicole Kushner Meyer is apologizing for mentioning her brother, Jared Kushner, a senior White House adviser and son-in-law to President Donald Trump, during an investment conference in China over the weekend.
“In 2008, my brother Jared Kushner joined the family company as CEO, and recently moved to Washington to join the administration,” Meyer said at the conference aimed at encouraging Chinese developers to invest in a New Jersey real estate project, according to CNN.
.. The program has come under intense scrutiny by both Republicans and Democrats.California Democrat Sen. Dianne Feinstein opposes the EB-5 visa program, arguing that it allows monied foreign nationals to use their wealth to buy visas and U.S. citizenship.
.. GreenTech Automotive, the electric car manufacturer co-founded by Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe — funded in-part by EB-5 visas granted to Chinese investors, and pushed through the politically-driven approval process by Tony Rodham, Hillary Clinton’s brother — failed to make its first payment on a $3 million loan from the state of Mississippi. The company shuttered its Mississippi factory earlier this year.
New York property developer Kushner Cos. launched a weekend marketing campaign for a New Jersey development, targeting major Chinese cities for wealthy individuals to invest a combined $150 million for the chance to secure U.S. immigration rights.The developer, owned by the family of Trump administration senior adviser Jared Kushner, is trying to draw investment into twin 66-floor commercial-and-residential towers called One Journal Square that would cost almost $1 billion to build, according to marketing materials. Up to 300 individuals who put $500,000 each into the project could be eligible for green cards under a U.S. investment-for-immigration program called EB-5, the materials said.
The China marketing push, being led by Mr. Kushner’s sister, Nicole Meyer, began in Beijing on Saturday and shifted to Shanghai on Sunday.