The Trump administration has fielded calls for investigations on at least two fronts this week.
In a letter dated Monday, the U.S. government’s top ethics chief called on the White House to investigate top President Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway over comments she made promoting Ivanka Trump’s brand at the White House.
In a letter to Stefan Passantino, deputy counsel to President Trump, Walter Shaub, director of the Office of Government Ethics, said there is “strong reason to believe” that Conway violated a “standards of conduct” rule prohibiting presidential appointees from appearing in a television commercial to promote a product.
Here is the Office of Government Ethics' letter suggesting the WH investigate Conway for comments about Ivanka Trump's brand. pic.twitter.com/R2ALZYrwT0
— Dan Merica (@danmericaCNN) February 14, 2017
In an appearance on “Fox & Friends” last week, Conway was asked about Nordstrom’s decision to drop Ivanka Trump’s products from its stores. Trump himself had used his presidential platform to rip Nordstrom’s “terrible” decision.
“Go buy Ivanka’s stuff is what I would tell you,” Conway said from the James S. Brady Briefing Room, with the official White House seal in full view. “I’m going to go get myself some today.”
Conway added: “This is just a wonderful line. I own some of it. … I’m going to give a free commercial here: Go buy it today, everybody. You can find it online.”
White House press secretary Sean Spicer later said Conway had been “counseled” about her potential ethics violation after the interview but declined to elaborate.
“Executive branch officials should use the authority entrusted in them for the benefit of the American public and not for private profit,” Shaub wrote. “I recommend that the White House investigate Ms. Conway’s actions and consider taking disciplinary action against her.”
Shaub asked that the White House notify his office of its findings by Feb. 28.
Meanwhile, House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform chairman Jason Chaffetz sent a separate letter to White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus asking for answers to reports that sensitive information may have been shared or discussed in front of Mar-a-Lago guests as the Trump administration prepared its response to North Korea’s missile test launch on Saturday.
“Accounts and photographs from other diners seem to indicate these communications occurred in the presence of other guests,” Chaffetz wrote. “Reportedly, documents were provided by what appeared to be White House staff for the President’s review while the dinner proceeded.”
In photos posted by one guest to Facebook, Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe were seen reviewing printouts as aides held up mobile phones to provide enough light for the pair to read them.
On Monday night, Spicer told reporters that no classified information was reviewed on the patio at Mar-a-Lago and that the president was briefed in a secure area before and after dinner.
“Nevertheless, discussions with foreign leaders regarding international missile tests, and documents used to support those discussions, are presumptively sensitive,” Chaffetz wrote. “While the President is always on duty, and cannot dictate the timing of when he needs to receive sensitive information about urgent matters, we hope the White House will cooperate in providing the Committee with additional information.”
Chaffetz also requested that the White House respond to his letter by Feb 28.
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