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Donald Trump and Don McGahn - unethical & non-responsive

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Posted on May 30 2018


Trump thinks he’s a King...


...and is above Government ethics.


Remember last summer the Beltway was in a pretty big uproar because word “leaked” that Donald Trump “ordered” Agencies to ignore any and all requests from Democrats in Congress? 


Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi said the Trump Administration ‘NEW’ policy “an attempted gag order” that undermined one of Congress’s core functions. “With this order, President Trump is making his disregard for transparency and his lack of respect for Congress’s oversight role crystal clear,” Pelosi said.


The White House asked the DOJ & OLC to render an opinion as it relates to Congress and Oversight. Specifically the following two questions were posed:


Question 1

The constitutional authority to conduct oversight that is, the authority to make official inquiries into and to conduct investigations of Executive Branch programs and activities—may be exercised only by each house of Congress or, under existing delegations, by committees and subcommittees (or their chairmen).


Question 2:

Individual members of Congress, including ranking minority members, do not have the authority to conduct oversight in the absence of a specific delegation by a full house, committee, or subcommittee. They may request information from the Executive Branch, which may respond at its discretion, but such requests do not trigger any obligation to accommodate congressional needs and are not legally enforceable through subpoena or contempt proceedings.


May 2017 OLC Memo to Trump/McGahn:

In theory and practicality it  makes a lot of sense that: NO individual member of Congress has the “authority” to conduct or investigate the Executive Branch. The distinction made in the May 2017 OLC Memo is apparently lost on the Trump Administration. The White House and Trump continue to conflate the OLC memo,  which reads in part:


Members who are not committee or subcommittee chairmen sometimes seek information about executive branch programs or activities, whether for legislation, constituent service, or other legitimate purposes (such as Senators’ role in providing advice and consent for presidential appoint- ments) in the absence of delegated oversight authority. In those non- oversight contexts, the Executive Branch has historically exercised its discretion in determining whether and how to respond, following a gen- eral policy of providing only documents and information that are already public or would be available to the public through the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552.

Whether it is appropriate to respond to request from individual members will depend on the circumstances. In general, agencies have provided information only when doing so would not be overly burdensome and would not interfere with their ability to respond in a timely manner to duly authorized oversight requests. In many instances, such discretionary responses furnish the agency with an oppor- tunity to correct misperceptions or inaccurate factual statements that are the basis for a request.


You can read the four page May 2017 OLC Memo, here.  


Notwithstanding it is this particular paragraph that Trump and White House Counsel Don McGahn have and continue to conflate. That said rank and file Members of Congress lack the authority to trigger an investigation and/or additional information request are limited to public documents available via FOIA request. Somehow Trump & McGahn believe they have zero obligation to respond to requests from individual members of Congress:


 “implicit constitutional mandate to seek optimal accommodation . . . of the needs of the conflicting branches.” United States v. AT&T Co., 567 F.2d 121, 127 (D.C. Cir. 1977); see also id. at 130–131 (describing the “[n]egotiation between the two branches” as “a dynamic process affirmatively furthering the constitutional scheme”).  Such oversight requests are enforceable by the issuance of a subpoena and the potential for contempt-of-Congress proceedings.

See McGrain, 273 U.S. at 174; 2 U.S.C. §§ 192, 194; see also Standing Rules of the Senate, Rule XXVI(1), S. Doc. No. 113-18, at 31 (2013) (empowering all standing committees to issue subpoenas); Rules of the House of Representatives, 115th Cong., Rule XI, cl. 2(m)(1) (2017) (same).

Upon receipt of a properly authorized oversight request, the Executive Branch’s longstanding policy has been to engage in the accommodation process by supplying the requested information “to the fullest extent consistent with the constitutional and statutory obligations of the Executive Branch.” 

...”in the absence of delegated oversight authority. In those non-oversight contexts, the Executive Branch has historically exercised its discretion in determining whether and how to respond, following a general policy of providing only documents and information that are already public or would be available to the public through the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552. Whether it is appropriate to respond to requests from individual members will depend on the circumstances.”




Now that you understand the totality of the May 2017 OLC memo, we can now discuss Government OverSight, writ large. A few base line facts:

  • Each Government agency has an Office of Inspector General colloquially known as an internal “watchdog”.
  • Each Government agency also has an ethics office.
  • there are Agencies who’s sole purpose is oversight, for example: the Office of Government Accountability (GAO), Office of Government Ethics (OGE). 


October 10, 2017 GAO Report:

Members of Congress publicly released the September 2017 GOA Report. The GOA Report was scathing. Nearly 47pages of facts, refusal by Trump & Pence to cooperate along with numerous members of the Trump Transition Team conduct. You can read the full 47 page GOA report, here.


GAO's investigation found that the transition team refused to cooperate with GAO and did not ask OGE to provide assistance to President-elect Trump on how to resolve his conflicts of interest or for input on the President's ethics executive order.  Overall, the GAO findings show a lack of attention to ethics and that precedents from previous Administrations were frequently broken - with little recourse from Congress...

GAO's report stated, "We contacted the Office of the Vice President because Vice President Pence also served as the Chairman of the Trump-Pence Transition Team.  The Office of the Vice President did not respond to our request to discuss this work."  GAO also reported that it, "contacted the Executive Director and Chief Financial Officer of the Trump-Pence Transition Team" but they "declined our request for an interview." 

GAO reported that the Trump transition team established an "ethical code of conduct," but failed to designate a transition official responsible for enforcing it.  As a result, transition team members were not strictly required to follow the ethics pledge.  In contrast, the Obama-Biden transition designated the General Counsel of the Transition Team and ethics officials as the appropriate officials to ensure compliance.


 May 9, 2018 GAO Letter to Trump/McGahn:

The GOA General Counsel Thomas Armstrongsent this two page letter to White House Counsel Don McGahn, expressing areas of multiple concern and lack of cooperation or communication or complying with multiple request. You can read the two page May 2018 GAO letter, here.

The GAO letter reads in part:


to “express concern” with the White House’s refusal to cooperate with requests from GAO for “critical information.” ...“I understand that attorneys from your office and the National Security Council (NSC) will not respond to inquiries or otherwise engage with GAO staff during the course of our reviews.  This approach represents a clear departure from past practice.”

Mr. Armstrong continued:  

“Over the past year, GAO has requested information and meetings when preparing reports on topics clearly involving White House interests and expertise.  These reports concern such diverse topics as the role of the NSC in the coordination of conflict prevention, mitigation, and stabilization efforts abroad; Inspector General vacancies; and the cost of presidential travel and related security measures.”

Mr. Armstrong concluded:  “I am concerned about the implications of this new policy regarding communication with GAO, particularly in our performance of a core function, namely, contributing to Congress’s constitutional oversight.”


May 29, 2018 Letter to Chairman Gowdy:

Yesterday’s Oversight letter to Chairman Gowdy didn’t even get a single second of MSM press coverage. Not a single article. Not a single tweet. Not a single news segment. It is incomprehensible to me how day after day the MSM gets sucked into the Trump Reality TV vortex. When the brutal reality is we have dozens of members of Congress who are trying to keep the oath of office they took to: “uphold the Constitution” and perform their CONSTITUTIONALLY MANDATED DUTIES, called Government Oversight, yet once again the MSM would rather focus on Trump’s tweets. This four page letter was signed off on by each ranking committee member. You can read the four page letter, here.

Their letter reads in part:


“We are writing to request that you hold an immediate hearing on the dramatic decision by the White House to obstruct investigations by our independent investigators at the Government Accountability Office,” 


 “We ask that the Committee obtain testimony from the White House Counsel and the General Counsel of GAO.  The Committee must act swiftly to determine who instructed White House staff to refuse to provide information to GAO, as well as to evaluate the justification for this decision and its potential to impair Congress from fulfilling its Constitutional oversight responsibilities.”


As you know, Congress established GAO by statute as its nonpartisan investigative arm, and we on the Oversight Committee have direct jurisdiction over both GAO and the White House,”


“On a bipartisan basis under both Republican and Democratic  Chairmen, we have strongly supported GAO’s right to access information from the Executive Branch in order to conduct audits and investigations that inform our work in Congress.




At WHAT point will the House GOP, Speaker Ryan, Chairman Gowdy, Chairman Goodlatte, Devin (Comrade-Rat-Traitor-tot) and the Freedom Cause will put the Country ahead of their Party?


Everything Trump has done is self serving, self aggrandizing, unjustly enrichment for himself and his family. Trump does care about Accountability or Transparency. Trump hates the Truth and Facts. Why? Because the Truth and Facts only point to show Trump’s criminality. Law and Order President my ass. Trump & his family will be a stain on our Country’s history and the Grand Ol’ Party will forever be known as the Party of Putin.


Only a narcissistic sociopath would act the way Trump does. If Trump is presumed innocent then why does he conduct himself in such a guilty manner?  


  • What has Trump done to secure the 2017 or 2018 Elecrions? NOTHING
  • How many Cabinet Level Meetings has Trump held about our Elections? 0
  • Has Trump directed the FBI, NSA, CIA, DIA, DNI, or DOD to strike Russia on the Cyber War Theater? NOPE
  • What Executive Order or presidential declaration has Trump signed to shore up our electoral system? NONE
  • what action has Trump taken to counter Russia’s Active Measures? NONE

Trump LIES and LIES and LIES. Last night I think Trump set a new record of how many lies he could utter in a single unhinged political screed. 

The reality is this Orange Hate Goblin is incapable of uttering the Truth because deep down inside I think Trump knows he is going to die penniless in jail and mostly likely his family’s entire “empire” built on FRAUD will likely be seized. -Spicy Out

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