Posted on March 15 2019
GAO Report, it’s bad for Trump
To be clear Presidential Harassment isn’t a thing. It’s a new narrative that Trump created to change the paradigm and normalize the rampant unethical and probable unlawful conduct by himself, his family members (looking at you Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump), his former and current Cabinet Members and Trump’s Administration at large.
It is undisputed that our Constitution explicitly grants Congress the power “of the purse” and “appropriate government oversight”. After all our Founding Fathers built in robust Check and Balances. Our Democracy depends on transparency and ethical behavior. Yet everyday Trump and his cabal of morally bankrupt and ethically challenged individuals continue their daily assault on our Rule of Law and Constitution.
You can read the full GAO Report here. Members of Congress requested the Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigate the following areas:
“..review compliance with ethics requirements as they relate to political appointees in the executive branch.
This report examines the extent to which:
(1) existing data identify political appointees serving in the executive branch at any point in time, and
(2) selected agencies use appropriate internal controls to reasonably ensure that their ethics programs are designed and implemented to meet statutory and regulatory requirements.
This report does not assess the overall objectives of federal agencies ethics programs and if those objectives are being effectively met.
The GAO cover letter to members of Congress indicates that once again the Trump White House capitulated and refused to proffer any pertinent document that would assist investigators to fully understand the process, documentation and remedial actions taken by the Trump White House to follow Federal Laws. This kind of subterfuge is not normal nor should this be even remotely acceptable. Unless you are fine with Donald Trump & his corrupt cabal having an emperial presidency. Last time I checked we are still a nation of laws and we are a Democracy arguably a Republic versus some tin-pot 3rd world Banana Republic. What part of three co-equal branches of government does the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave not understand?
Key Points Of GAO Report:
- GAO was unable to evaluate the White House ethics program because the White House Counsel’s Office refused to cooperate. The White House has repeatedly obstructed investigations by GAO under the Trump Administration. On March 6, 2019, the Comptroller General testified in a hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform that GAO requested information from the White House Counsel’s Office for “five different audit engagements” since President Trump took office and did not receive information in any of them. The Comptroller General said “there hasn’t been any meaningful contributions” from the White House.
- There is no public, up-to-date information on political appointees. Although the White House maintains timely data on political appointees in the executive branch, that data is not publicly available. GAO found that the Office of Personnel Management “is limited in its ability to provide comprehensive data, in part because it does not regularly receive data from each agency that has political appointees, such as the [Executive Office of the President], which has approximately 225 political appointee positions based on the 2016 Plum Book.”
- GAO reported that Interior failed to provide any documentation of its ethics program policies or procedures, exhibited delays in processing financial disclosure forms, and mishandled ethics pledges and ethics waivers. GAO reported “In one case, an Interior appointee who was required to file both a new entrant and termination report did not do so.” GAO found that “vacancies and staff turnover had negative effects on Interior’s ethics program.”
- GAO found that “nine Interior appointees’ and one HHS appointee’s pledges were not timely signed.”
- Three appointees – two from SBA and one from Interior – filed new entrant reports past their due dates,” according to GAO. “Late filing heightens the risk of appointees performing agency work while having conflicts of interest” GAO noted. SBA also did not adequately document when political appointees completed ethics training. At the start of GAO’s review, SBA did not have written procedures for providing initial ethics training, as required by regulation. SBA established these procedures during GAO’s review.
The GAO investigation focused on:
12 political appointees at both HHS and Interior, and 10 political appointees at SBA. We reviewed relevant documentation for these appointees to determine whether agency internal controls were sufficient to ensure that certain ethics program requirements, such as signing the ethics pledge, completing initial ethics training, and submitting a financial disclosure report, were met.
This is why our Founding Fathers builtin checks and balances yet in every instance Trump and his corrupt cabal continue to flout the acceptable rules of ethics and transparency. The notion that the White House Counsel’s Office REFUSED to provide GAO investigators with documentation can not be emphasized enough
On and just in case you were wondering why Ryan Zinke hired a white collar criminal defense attorney shortly before Trump demanded his resignation becuase Trump’s Cabinet was and is filled with some of the most unethical and corrupt people I’ve ever seen. Drain the swamp? Hell no. Trump stocked the DC Swamp with some of the biggest Megalodons DC has ever seen. I mean come on you actually believed Trump’s “drain the swamp” nonsense? How very cute and sad. Although to be fair three investigations are now closed and of those they found no evidence of that Zinke violated ethics laws. See previous write up here, here and archived twitter threads here,
OIG found that “incomplete information” about the former Secretary’s
travel and use of chartered flights during 2017 was provided to the DAEO for review. The other two completed investigations found no evidence that the former Secretary violated ethics laws.
Two investigations remained open as of March 2019.
I am also pretty sure that Ryan Zinke is still freaking out about the DC Grand Jury currently hearing evidence about his conduct, his conflict of interest, his unethical land deal and his inappropriate use of Government planes and vehicles. Yes Zinke should be very concerned that the Grand Jury May hand down a True Bill thus resulting in his (probable) criminal indictment.
Ranking Member Peters statement on today’s GAO Report:
“Strong ethics programs are necessary to ensure that we can trust our government. Americans have a right to know that public servants are acting in the people’s best interests and that their decisions are free from personal conflicts of interest,...Unfortunately, the GAO’s report makes clear that multiple agencies have failed to live up to this basic standard – including the White House which refused to cooperate with GAO’s investigation. This Administration has allowed serious ethical violations to go unchecked, which threatens the American people’s trust in their public officials.”
Chairman Cummings statement:
“GAO found significant problems in the ethics program at the Department of the Interior,...This, combined with the revelation in an Oversight Committee hearing yesterday that Acting Secretary Bernhardt may be deleting his calendars and holding secret meetings is troubling. I am also outraged at the systematic obstruction by the White House of the work of the nonpartisan GAO.”
Senator Carper’s statement:
“It reveals that several federal agencies have failed to abide by basic ethical procedures, standards, and principles meant to ensure political appointees and federal employees are working in the best interest of the American people. What’s more, the White House refused to participate in GAO’s oversight investigation. Upholding basic ethical standards for our government should not be a partisan issue; it's good, common sense policy that is necessary for a healthy democracy. Sunshine is said to be the best disinfectant. It’s why now, perhaps more than ever, at a time when Americans’ trust in the federal government is at a historic low, shedding some light and conducting critical oversight on the ethical lapses revealed in this report will begin the important and much needed process of restoring trust in our government and those who serve in it.”
What I do not understand is why reports like this are not reported on and highlighted by the media at large. Instead they focus on Trump’s tweets or what ever scandal or self made crisis versus drilling down on important matters like this. If we are truly going to survive the daily and sometimes hourly attacks on our Constitution, Government Institution and otherwise Corrupt tendencies of Donald Trump and his Administration writ large then we should pay attention to reports such as this.
Also another reason reports like this GAO Report are critically important to read is they almost always contain numerous inter and intra Agency Communiques that rarely see the light of day unless you specifically request production via a FOIA request..for example pages 40 thru 48 are internal letters sent from the SBA, OGE and Department of Interior General counsels
🇷🇺Trump and Ethics...NYET🇷🇺
If you actually believed that Trump would be the shining light on the hill, to be the beacon of Ethics and Morality. Then you need to pull your head out. Because the Trump brand of Republicans motto is: imma gonna rob you blind and there isn’t a goddamn thing you can do about it, because I’m Prez Bigly and you’re not. No really to all you dolts that voted for this two but con-man that’s actually running a criminal enterprise from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, hell yes I totally look at you differently and hold a lot of contempt for you and your terrible decision to vote for Trump. Simply because he tapped in to your hate and fear. And now millions of us have to deal with the consequences of your shitty decision to support an actual narcissistic sociopath.
Mob bosses are UNETHICAL & Corrupt
that’s WHAT Trump is a Mob Boss
While you're here, throw us a bone.
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