The U.S. Government Accountability Office is reviewing Donald Trump’s presidential transition, focusing on funding, ethics and communications with foreign governments.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) requested the review in November, citing concerns with “reports of ‘disarray’ within a ‘chaotic’ transition.”
In an April 5 letter to Warren and Cummings, the GAO confirmed that it would conduct the review. The report will focus on four questions, including how taxpayer and private funds were spent during the election. GAO officials will also look at what information the Office of Government Ethics made available to Trump’s transition team and how Trump’s team used those services. OGE Director Walter Shaub Jr. expressed concern during the transition that Trump’s Cabinet picks weren’t fully vetted, and he reportedly warned Trump officials after his office lost contact with the transition team shortly after the November election.
Trump has extensive potential conflicts of interest, but because he has declined to release his tax returns, the extent of those conflicts remains unknown. He declined to divest entirely from his business interests following the election, instead simply saying that it would be run by his children, who would have no contact with him over business-related decisions.
The GAO will also review how transition officials communicated with foreign governments and how their actions compare with the Obama transition in 2009 and the Bush transition in 2001. Michael Flynn, formerly Trump’s national security adviser, was fired in February after lying about communications with Russia’s ambassador to the United States. Attorney General Jeff Sessions also met with the Russian diplomat and was forced to recuse himself from any probe of Trump’s ties to Russia after The Washington Post reported that he failed to disclose the meeting during his Senate confirmation hearing.
The GAO said in its letter that it would provide a draft of its report for review in June.