The head of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is feeling the heat from Democrats, who are saying it’s time to look into the Trump administration.
On Thursday, Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland, sent a letter to Chaffetz urging his panel to investigate White House counsel Kellyanne Conway’s open promotion of Ivanka Trump’s fashion brand — a possible violation of federal law.
“This appears to be a textbook violation of government ethics laws and regulations enacted to prevent the abuse of an employee’s government position,” Cummings wrote in his letter.
On Thursday afternoon Chaffetz said that Conway’s comments were “clearly over the line.”
BREAKING: House Oversight chairman calls White House aide’s promotion of Ivanka Trump brand `clearly over the line, unacceptable’
— The Associated Press (@AP) February 9, 2017
But on Wednesday Chaffetz denied to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that there was any legitimacy to concerns about Trump’s multiple conflicts of interest, arguing that “the president is exempt from conflicts of interest” and insisting that Democrats merely want a “fishing expedition” due to sour groups over Hillary Clinton’s defeat.
“If somebody has not violated the law and there’s no evidence that they’re violating the law, do you really think that it’s appropriate for me to just go on a fishing expedition and look at tax returns?” Chaffetz, who has said he would not stop investigating Hillary Clinton, asked Blitzer. “There’s very strict rules on that.”
Blitzer responded, saying, “Your committee is designed to be a sort of a check and a balance on the executive branch.”
On Tuesday Chaffetz told reporters that he has not discussed any potential oversight of the Trump administration because the president pre-emptively scolded him into avoiding the subject.
“Before my bum even hit the chair, the president said, ‘No oversight. You can’t talk about anything that has to do with oversight,’” Chaffetz said.
Chaffetz’s words and actions are part of a larger partisan pattern of behavior in which, despite his investigating former president Barack Obama’s and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s actions, he has refused to look at President Trump in this fashion.