Well, this is promising.
The Government Accountability Office has finally responded to the letter from late last year that Senator Elizabeth Warren and Representative Elijah Cummings wrote detailing concerns about the Trump transition team’s possibly improper usage of federal funds.
Back in November, Warren and Cummings asked the GAO to look into “conflicts of interest related to business holdings of Mr. Trump and his family; potential violations of protocol and security precautions related to Mr. Trump’s communications with foreign leaders; and transparency related to the use of taxpayer funds in the transition.”
That letter was birthed largely out of concerns that the Trump transition team was using federal resources to contribute not only to the efforts to ease Trump into his new job, but also to cultivate the many business ventures of the Trump Organization, which Trump still had a tight grip on when Warren and Cummings first raised their concerns.
Trump and his team, according to reports from late last year, held business meetings on the taxpayers’ dime, with the new President taking a “break” at one point from preparing to officially assume the presidency in order to hold a meeting with three Indian business partners in New York City’s Trump Tower.
As Warren and Cummings’s letter also describes, another instance of corruption of the presidential transition funds on the part of the Trump team took place when the then-president-elect turned a congratulatory call from the President of Argentina into a tussle over what was holding up one of the Trump Organization’s Argentinian real estate ventures.
As the lawmakers noted at the time, and as has become an even bigger issue since last November, “At this point, it is not clear if the line between Mr. Trump’s presidency and his businesses is blurred — or entirely non-existent.”
Earlier this year, Trump made a show of addressing concerns of conflicts of interest in his still infantile presidential administration by way of handing off executive control of his businesses to his two oldest sons, Donald Jr. and Eric. It is not clear, however, whether or not that move was enough to make Trump’s administration adhere to the law.
Now, the GAO is stepping up to the plate to take on the transition side of the issue of conflicts of interest in Trump’s presidential administration. The letter just released by the office details that their investigation will seek to uncover, quite simply, what the federal funds provided for the post-2016 election transition were actually used for, along with a comparison of those usages to both written precedent and the precedent of past transitions.
The letter, written on April 5, says that the GAO intends to “complete [their] work and send a draft product to the agencies for comment in June 2017.”
Should the GAO find that the Trump transition team improperly used taxpayer funds, it’s not immediately clear what the course of action following that finding would be. There are a number of active inquiries into the Trump team over concerns about conflicts of interest.
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