Corruption bombshells are exploding with ear-splitting frequency in Washington, D.C.
In the past few weeks, we’ve learned:
- AT&T and the pharmaceutical company Novartis made payments to Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, supposedly seeking “advice.”
Not so incidentally, they contributed to the same shell company used to make hush payments to Stormy Daniels.
- Just days after a state-owned Chinese business said it would loan $500 million to an Indonesian resort development that features Trump-branded properties, Trump in a tweet announced a sudden change on sanctions against a Chinese corporation.
- Jared Kushner’s distressed family business is expected to receive a bailout from a Qatar-backed investment fund.
Qatar officials say they believe Kushner has pushed anti-Qatar positions in part because the country previously declined to assist the family business.
Pause for a moment and consider any one of those outrages and what they tell us about the peril we face.
And then reflect on how important this shared project called Public Citizen is — in calling out these abuses, demanding investigations and accountability, and winning reforms to prevent them from recurring.
Unlike Michael Cohen, we don’t take money from corporations.
And unlike Trump and Kushner, we don’t accept money from governments — foreign or domestic.
Public Citizen relies on you — you and tens of thousands of Americans who chip in what they can to power our work.
We’re doing everything we can to pressure Trump and his administration on their conflicts and corruption.
Consider just a very partial illustration of our activity:
- We called on Congress and the Justice Department to investigate whether Michael Cohen wrongly failed to register as a lobbyist or foreign agent.
- We worked closely with U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren on the Presidential Conflicts of Interest Act, which would require Trump to divest his business interests.
- We filed 29 requests for investigation with executive agency ethics officers into former lobbyists now working in the administration — in violation of Trump’s own ethics pledge.
- We filed a complaint with the U.S. Office of Government Ethics calling for an investigation into White House senior adviser Kellyanne Conway’s on-air advertisement for Ivanka Trump’s product line.
The ethics office supported our allegation of wrongdoing.
- We filed a request for an Inspector General investigation into U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt’s sweetheart housing deal.
- We filed a request for investigation with the Department of Justice and congressional ethics enforcers into the apparent lobbying activities of Trump confidante Corey Lewandowski.
This led directly to him removing himself from a lobbying firm.
- We filed a request for investigation with congressional ethics enforcers into the failure of Carl Icahn — until recently the special regulatory adviser to the president — to register as a lobbyist, provoking an immediate response from him and helping shine a light on his unprecedented conflict of interest.
That attention helped block him from achieving a regulatory change worth hundreds of millions to him personally, and helped prompt his decision to resign his position with the White House.
- We worked closely with U.S. Senator Ron Wyden on legislation that would require Trump to disclose his business interests in a country before embarking on trade negotiations with that nation.
- We challenged and helped undo a sweetheart EPA contract allocated to a Republican PR firm that was monitoring EPA staff who prioritized science over industry talking points.
- We issued a report on Trump’s regulatory conflicts of interest, highlighting how his business interests are affected by a striking number of live regulatory issues.
We simultaneously worked closely with U.S. Rep. David Cicilline, ranking member on the House Judiciary Committee, on legislation that would require disclosure of Trump’s relevant conflicts before deregulatory moves could proceed (a “Trump Impact Statement”).
- We sued and forced the publication of visitor logs to key White House agencies.
Now we’ll know who’s taking meetings at the White House regulatory office and asking for public protections to be repealed.
- With colleagues, we represent members of Congress who are suing to get documents related to the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., located in property that is leased from the government in blatant violation of lease terms that prohibit government employees from holding the lease.
Our objective is, first and foremost, to stop the abuses.
But it also is to illustrate, again and again, that President Trump’s conflicts mock Candidate Trump’s promises to rid Washington of corruption, cronyism and insider-dealing.
The idea is, over time, to break through to Americans attracted to Trump’s populist pretensions and make clear that he is deepening and personally benefiting from the very abuses he campaigned against.
And, of course, we’re looking forward to fundamental reforms.
To shut down the virulent venality of the Trump administration, yes.
But also to unrig a political system that is working for corporations and the superrich and against the interests of we the people, whichever party is in charge.
When we come together as Public Citizen, we make a difference.
President, Public Citizen
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