On Sunday, Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) told ABC that he wouldn’t go on a “fishing trip” for President-elect Donald Trump’s alleged conflicts-of-interest. That’s a pretty big statement since he chairs the House Oversight Committee, a congressional watchdog over the federal government.
“Until we see something that is actually wrongdoing, we’re probably not going to just go on a fishing trip,” he told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on Sunday. “We’re not going to do that. That’s not what we do in this committee.”
Trump has faced scrutiny for his real estate and hotel business empire. Critics say it is obvious conflict-of-interest that will warp the way he governs. For example, according to 2016 federal disclosure forms, he owns stock in the Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners—that’s the same company building the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline.
Congressman Raul Grijalva (D-Arizona), the Senior Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, said the stock choice reflected a pattern seen in the PEOTUS’s controversial transition team.
“You have climate [change] deniers, industry lobbyists, and energy conglomerates involved in that process,” Grijalva told The Associated Press in a November report. “The pipeline companies are gleeful. This is pay-to-play at its rawest.”
Chaffetz says he’s not aware of any corruption from the president-elect, however.
“The president-elect has a duty and obligation to abide by the law, and he’s exempt from most all of these laws,” he said on Sunday. “He has done a financial disclosure which has gone through the Office of Government Ethics. I think he’s done that twice. That is his duty under the law. I hear no complaints about that.”
Stephanopoulos pressed Chaffetz on Trump’s possible financial links to Russia (its government allegedly helped him win the election), and possible violation of the Constitution’s emoluments clause.
“The president-elect hasn’t even been sworn in yet,” he said. “So all this flailing about he’s done everything wrong is a little premature at best.”
PEOTUS has denied having conflicts-of-interest. It is traditional for president’s to fully divest business holdings before taking office instead he has opted to give control to his two sons.
[Screengrab via ABC]