US Ethics Office Warns Trump Nominee Confirmations Are Moving Too Fast

President-elect Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos after their meeting at Trump International Golf Club in Bedminster Township, N.J., on Nov. 19, 2016
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The Office of Government Ethics on Saturday warned that confirmation hearings for President-elect Donald Trump's nominees are moving too fast.

In a letter to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) that was released Saturday, OGE Director Walter Shaub wrote that “the announced hearing schedule for several nominees who have not completed the ethics review process is of great concern to me” and that the current schedule “has created undue pressure on OGE’s staff and agency ethics officials to rush through these important reviews, NPR reports.


"More significantly, it has left some of the nominees with potentially unknown or unresolved ethics issues shortly before their scheduled hearings," Shaub continued. "I am not aware of any occasion in the four decades since OGE was established when the Senate held a confirmation hearing before the nominee had completed the ethics review process."

Shaub noted that OGE has yet to receive financial disclosures for some picks set to come before Congress this week, and explained that the Ethics in Government Act requires that presidential appointees confirmed by the Senate must have OGE certification of their financial disclosures prior to any congressional hearings.

Shaub wrote that such a process is “complex” and “labor intensive” and takes “weeks, not days,” to ensure that the Senate has a clear picture of any possible conflicts of interest.

According to NPR, a GOP source noted that in the past, the OGE paperwork hasn’t always preceded hearings. As an example, in 2001 Rod Paige, George W. Bush’s nominee for secretary of education, had his hearing more than a week before the committee received the OGE paperwork.


Confirmation hearings are set to begin this week for several of Trump’s nominees for top Cabinet positions so that they can be voted on and sworn in as soon as possible after Trump takes office Jan. 20. NPR notes the following:

  • Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions and Homeland Security nominee retired Gen. John Kelly are set for hearings on Tuesday.
  • On Wednesday, hearings are set for Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson, whose close ties to Russia as Exxon Mobil CEO have come under scrutiny, along with Education Secretary nominee Betsy DeVos and Transportation Secretary nominee Elaine Chao.
  • On Thursday, hearings are set for Housing and Urban Development Secretary nominee Ben Carson and Commerce Secretary nominee Wilbur Ross. A hearing on retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis, nominee for defense secretary, is also scheduled.

Read more at NPR.

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