Ethical Quandaries In The Trump Cabinet

Jan 10, 2017

Ethics and the Trump Cabinet. Confirmations hearings for Trump’s nominees begin before ethics reviews are completed. It’s unprecedented. We’re on it.

Alarms went up last week when the Office of Government Ethics said nominees for the Trump cabinet – plenty of millionaires and billionaires among them – weren’t filing the paperwork for ethics clearance, a conflict of interest check, in time for review. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told critics to “grow up.” The President-elect himself has yet to make plain how he’ll avoid ethical pitfalls. The clock is ticking to Inauguration Day. This hour On Point, ethics and the incoming Trump administration. — Tom Ashbrook


Russell Berman, senior associate editor at The Atlantic, where he covers politics. Creator of the “Donald Trump Cabinet Tracker.” (@russellberman)

Amb. Norman Eisen, fellow at the Brookings Institution. Former U.S. Ambassador to the Czech Republic. Former special counsel for ethics and government reform in the Obama White House. Co-founder of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a nonprofit government watchdog group. (@normeisen)

David French, staff writer at the National Review.  (@DavidAFrench)

From Tom’s Reading List

The Atlantic: Senate Republicans Decide That Ethics Can Wait — “As many as four top Cabinet nominees of President-elect Donald Trump will receive confirmation hearings this week without having completed financial disclosure reports and ethics agreements, breaking a longstanding tradition in the Senate. Citing the importance of the new president having his national-security team in place immediately, Republican leaders are intent on seating as many of Trump’s Cabinet picks as possible by the time he takes office on January 20.”

National Review: More Than 1,100 Law Professors Oppose Jeff Sessions; Nobody Should Care — “What’s actually happening is that a collection of liberals are using the (rapidly-diminishing) prestige of their institutions and profession to make news when there is none. Of course liberals oppose a conservative nominee, and of course academic liberals are prone to play the race card. If any of them wish to make a detailed case based on law and facts, then make that case. Until then, however, their letter is little more than an especially pretentious version of a petition.”

POLITICO: McConnell: We won’t delay hearings — “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Sunday rebuffed Democratic calls to slow down rapid confirmation of Donald Trump’s Cabinet picks, even after a nonpartisan federal watchdog raised ‘great’ concerns about moving ahead with hearings for nominees whose ethics reviews have not been completed.”

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit