Donald Trump was sworn in and gave his speech this morning. Now the streets are on fire, and an ethics watchdog group has already filed complaints with the government about him, regarding his conflicts of interest. With things going so well, I now understand why he wanted to make Monday his first official day on the job.
The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) announced in a press release that they filed two complaints against the hours-old Trump administration. One was over the fact that Trump could be violating the terms of the lease he was given for the Old Post Office, which is now the Trump International Hotel. In the complaint, CREW asks the General Services Administration to find Trump in violation of the lease terms which state that "[no] elected official of the Government of the United States...shall be admitted to any share or part of this Lease, or to any benefit that may arise therefrom."
According to the CREW complaint, there's been no evidence so far that Trump is no longer in charge of Trump Post Office LLC, the LLC that owns the lease for the hotel. And, since as the complaint helpfully points out, the fact that Trump is now the president of the United States makes him a government official. The complaint is asking the GSA to notify Trump Old Post Office LLC that it is in violation of the lease, and to initiate the possible revocation of the property.
In the other complaint, CREW is alleging that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is refusing to answer their Freedom of Information Law request to share any emails the incoming administration sent the NOAA asking to name employees who were doing work on climate change. According to the complaints, CREW sent the FOIA request on December 16th, and other than a same day confirmation they got the letter and an agreement to waive the fee associated with the request on January 4th, the NOAA has otherwise not responded.
In addition to the specific complaints, CREW executive director Noah Bookbinder released a statement in which he alleged that Trump is in violation of the Constitution's emoluments clause, although no one knows "just to what extent this violation goes—because he is the first person elected to the presidency in decades to fail to clear the ethical bar of Richard Nixon and release his tax returns, much of his foreign business has remained secret."
Meanwhile, ProPublica reports that ten days after announcing that he would relinquish leadership and management of the Trump Organization and place it in a family trust by inauguration day, there is no evidence of Trump having filed the paperwork to do so. Trump is "not doing what they said they would do,” Richard Painter, the chief ethics lawyer for President George W. Bush, tells ProPublica. “And even that was completely inadequate.”