Trump Exempts Entire Senior Staff From White House Ethics Rules

After a pointed exchange with ethics officials, the White House has released a list of waivers to Trump’s ethics rules—and Kellyanne Conway, Steve Bannon, and more are exempted.


05.31.17 10:55 PM ET

President Donald Trump has exempted his entire senior staff from provisions of his own ethics rules to allow them to work with political and advocacy groups that support the administration.

Staffers given a pass on those rules include White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, who has the green light to communicate and meet with “political, advocacy, trade, or non-profit organizations” that formerly employed her consulting firm, despite ethics rules that would otherwise bar work with former clients.

Chief White House strategist Steve Bannon also received a waiver to the rules as part of a blanket exemption for all White House appointees allowing them to communicate with the press. His reported discussions with former colleagues at the pro-Trump site Breitbart News, which Bannon chaired until last year, had raised red flags among ethics watchdogs.

Bannon and Conway will both be free to work with a network of political groups backed by the wealthy Mercer family, which was integral to Trump’s victory last year and continues to support his agenda as president.

The White House on Wednesday released a list of waivers to the ethics pledge imposed by a January executive order on all administration nominees and appointees. It agreed to do so only after a pointed exchange with federal ethics officials over the scope of their oversight authority.

Three former lobbyists in the White House, and one on the vice president’s staff, have also been exempted from “revolving door” rules imposed by that executive order, allowing them to work on administration policies that might benefit former clients.

The list provides the first official glimpse at the extent to which Trump has circumvented his own ethics rules by hiring former special interest advocates of the type that he railed against on the campaign trail.

But it does not cover the entire Trump administration and only discloses waivers granted to officials in the Executive Office of the President and the Office of the Vice President. The Office of Government Ethics had requested all waivers issued to appointees administration-wide, but it was not immediately clear whether those were to be made available by the White House or the applicable federal agencies.

The White House did not immediately respond to questions about further waiver disclosures.

The West Wing’s three former lobbyists have been given wide latitude to work on a range of policy issues that might dovetail with the interests of their former clients.

Energy policy adviser Michael Catanzaro—a former energy industry lobbyist with clients in the oil, gas, and coal sectors—“may participate in broad policy matters and particular matters of general applicability relating to the Clean Power Plan” and other Obama administration environmental rules.

“Particular matters of general applicability” generally refer to laws or regulations that affect a narrow and identifiable group—say, a single industry. In effect, Catanzaro will be free to promote policies that benefit his former clients as long as he doesn’t go to bat for them directly.

So too will Shahira Knight, a White House economist and former lobbyist for financial services giant Fidelity who can now “participate in broad policy matters and particular matters of general applicability relating to tax, retirement and financial services issues.”

Andrew Olmem, another White House economist and a former lobbyist for a host of large financial services and insurance firms, will be free to work with former clients on specific issues affecting bank capital requirements, financial regulation of insurers, and the Puerto Rican debt crisis, all issues on which he has recently lobbied.

Those officials have been given freer rein to advance their former clients’ financial interests, but ethics rules have also been waived for every other “commissioned officer”—staffers who report directly to the president—in the White House who has worked for a political group in the past two years.

That will allow a number of White House staffers to collaborate with pro-Trump advocacy operations. The West Wing is stacked with officials who have made significant sums working, consulting for, or representing high-profile political organizations, including networks of groups financed by the Trump-backing Mercer family and the libertarian Koch family.

Conway herself consulted for more than 50 political, policy, and advocacy organizations last year, according to a White House financial disclosure statement.

She and Bannon will be free to continue working with two campaign vendors in particular, Glittering Steel and Cambridge Analytica, that are key components of the Mercers’ pro-Trump political endeavors. Bannon helped lead both companies, and Cambridge Analytica enlisted Conway’s consulting services last year.

The White House also issued a collective waiver to six White House officials formerly employed by the law firm Jones Day, which has sent more than a dozen attorneys to the Trump administration, allowing them to meet and communicate with former colleagues representing the White House, Trump, his campaign, “or political entities supporting the president.”

The White House’s waiver disclosures came after a tense back and forth with the Office of Government Ethics. The White House initially disputed that OGE had the authority to demand a full list of waivers granted to administration appointees.

After OGE director Walter Shaub disputed those “highly unusual” claims, the White House agreed to disclose all ethics pledge waivers.

Disclosure was more regimented under a similar executive order imposed by President Barack Obama in 2009. That measure directed OGE to regularly update its website with a list of waivers to a similar ethics pledge—Obama granted 49 in total over eight years and across his entire administration—along with detailed explanations of why those waivers were in the “public interest.” No such explanations accompanied the Trump White House’s list.
Ethics watchdogs appeared nonplussed by the release on Wednesday evening.

“We now know who was given a waiver from their WH ethics pledge,” wrote the left-leaning group Citizens for Responsibility in Washington on Twitter. “Looks like the end of the drain the swamp illusion.”

In: dailybeast

White House Waivers May Have Violated Ethics Rules

Stephen K. Bannon, center, President Trump’s chief strategist, in April. Credit Al Drago/The New York Times

The Trump administration may have skirted federal ethics rules by retroactively granting a blanket exemption that allows Stephen K. Bannon, the senior White House strategist, to communicate with editors at Breitbart News, where he was recently an executive.

The exemption, made public late Wednesday along with more than a dozen other ethics waivers issued by the White House, allows all White House aides to communicate with news organizations, even if they involve a “former employer or former client.”

The waiver, which was undated, did not mention Mr. Bannon specifically, but appeared to benefit him by potentially dislodging him from a pending ethics complaint over his past discussions with Breitbart editors. It would also free him from restrictions on his future communication with the conservative media company.

The waiver, and the fact that it remains unclear when it was originally issued, seemed unusual to Walter M. Shaub Jr., the director of the Office of Government Ethics, who questioned its validity.

“There is no such thing as a retroactive waiver,” Mr. Shaub said in an interview. “If you need a retroactive waiver, you have violated a rule.”

A spokeswoman for the White House did not respond to a request for comment. The ethics waivers had prompted a dispute between the White House and the ethics office, which pressed the administration to make them public. The waivers reveal what past work might conflict with aides’ new official duties.

In January, President Trump signed an executive order that put in place stringent ethics rules for his political appointees like Mr. Bannon. Under the policy, Mr. Bannon would be barred from contacting Breitbart employees for two years to discuss issues that were under his purview while he was an executive there.

But Mr. Bannon continued those communications, including with Breitbart editors, after beginning his job as Mr. Trump’s chief strategist on Jan. 20, according to a complaint by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a liberal group.

Some critics have raised concerns about Mr. Bannon’s ties to Breitbart, which he helped build into a formidable conservative media force before leaving last August to join Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign. The complaint alleged that Mr. Bannon’s discussions with the media organization — in his official role as chief strategist — “resulted in Breitbart receiving preferential access to senior members of the Trump administration.”

The complaint was filed with the White House Counsel’s Office, which has the ability to investigate and issue a punishment, if it deems one necessary. It has not commented publicly on the complaint.

But in another recent case, after complaints from several groups, the counsel’s office disclosed that it found that another top adviser, Kellyanne Conway, had acted “inadvertently” by promoting the brand of Ivanka Trump, Mr. Trump’s daughter, during an interview on Fox News in February. It said Ms. Conway was “highly unlikely” to err again.

The Office of Government Ethics, which is the chief ethics monitor for the federal government, does not have the authority to investigate complaints. It did issue an opinion during the Obama administration maintaining that retroactive ethics waivers were not allowed, and noted several instances where they appeared to have been granted after the fact.

“Waivers and authorizations must be issued prospectively in order to be valid,” Don Fox, the general counsel of the ethics office, wrote in April 2010. He wrote that the process of evaluating waivers was one of the more significant duties of ethics officials. “Both the individual employee’s interests and those of the government are best served when this process is carried out in a careful and consistent manner.”

Mr. Shaub, the ethics monitor, said he was concerned that the media organization waiver, and a number of others made public on Wednesday, did not include dates, making it impossible to tell when they were issued.

“It leaves us unable to evaluate if the waiver was issued before or after you engaged in conduct that would otherwise be prohibited,” Mr. Shaub said.

For example, there is no date on a broad waiver allowing senior White House employees to have contacts with an assortment of political organizations — including ones where they may have worked, such as the president’s campaign or the Republican Attorneys General Association.

Richard W. Painter, a White House ethics lawyer in the George W. Bush administration, who has been critical of the Trump administration’s approach to ethics, said that backdating was not an acceptable approach.

“The only retroactive waiver I have ever heard of is called a pardon,” Mr. Painter said in an email.

In: nytimes

White House Discloses Ethics Waivers For Presidential Aides

The White House released ethics waivers for ex-lobbyists and numerous others who have joined the government. The White House granted 14 waivers, including one for Kellyanne Conway.
Evan Vucci/AP

The White House on Wednesday night released 14 ethics waivers — documents that exempt some top presidential aides from important ethics rules.

The disclosures came after a quiet but tough battle between Trump administration officials and the Office of Government Ethics.

The waivers are considered public documents, but for weeks after President Trump took office, they weren’t made public.

In April, the Office of Government Ethics began to push the issue.

The White House initially said OGE didn’t have the legal authority to do that, but on Wednesday it agreed to post the waivers online.

Office Director Walter Shaub Jr. had a terse response: “I’m pleased that the White House has released the waivers on its website. Having the waivers is critical to ensuring that agencies and individual appointees are adhering to ethics requirements.”

The 14 waivers issued by the White House include 11 for specific individuals, and three covering groups of people — among them White House counsel Don McGahn and five other lawyers from the Jones Day law firm.

Among those getting ethics waivers: White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, who was allowed to take bonuses of $175,000 from his old job running the Republican National Committee.

Presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway was allowed to communicate with clients from her former consulting firm, but only on “broad policy matters.”

Three former corporate lobbyists will keep working on the issues they dealt with before: finance, energy and the environment.

And chief strategist Steve Bannon, the former head of Breitbart News, may meet privately with the media outlet.

More waivers are out there, and the Office of Government Ethics expects to make them public as it collects them from other federal agencies.

In: npr 

Conserje confesó crimen de joven en Surco: “Sentí placer y no pude detenerme”


Jose Maria Malaga Morla Feminicida

El cuerpo sin vida de esta mujer fue hallado en el piso 17 de un departamento ubicado en la AV. Manuel Olguín en Surco. En el transcurso del día se han intervenido a 7 personas, entre ellos 6 ciudadanos colombianos y un peruano identificado como José María Málaga Morgan quien sería acusado del autor del homicidio. José María Málaga Morla admitió ante la Policía que asesinó a Emily Monja Pacheco cuando intentó violarla en un departamento.

En: Frecuencia Latina / Panamericana TV

Ver: elcomercio

¿Qué significa que Trump saque a EEUU del Acuerdo de París contra el cambio climático?

Solo había dos países pertenecientes a Naciones Unidas que no apoyasen el pacto contra el calentamiento del planeta: Siria y Nicaragua. Ahora ya son tres.

Corporates eating the world. Imagen:

Las consecuencias de que el presidente Donald Trump retire a Estados Unidos del Acuerdo de París contra el cambio climático son muchas y complejas, la mayoría negativas. No obstante, al margen de especulaciones, hay algunas cuestiones claras:

1. EEUU se retira de un pacto mundial que apoya hasta Corea del Norte

Lo primero es que EEUU deja un pacto que es apoyado por otras 193 naciones del planeta ( aquí está la lista), prácticamente todos los países de la Tierra. Solo hay dos pertenecientes a Naciones Unidas que no están: Siria y Nicaragua. Pero todos los demás lo firmaron, incluso la Corea del Norte de Kim Jong Un.

Tras aprobarse un acuerdo internacional de este tipo, luego hay que esperar un tiempo hasta que se suman las ratificaciones de países suficientes para que entre en vigor. El pacto de París es el acuerdo internacional que más rápido ha conseguido su ratificación en la historia de Naciones Unidas.

La salida de EEUU no va a gustar al resto del planeta y va a provocar reacciones. La expresidenta irlandesa Mary Robinson ya había adelantado que, si Estados Unidos decidía retirarse de los compromisos asumidos en el Acuerdo de París contra el cambio climático, se convertiría en “un estado paria”.

2. El segundo emisor de CO2 deja a los otros el problema de cambio climático

El Acuerdo de París supuso un hito justamente por unir a tantos países de la Tierra contra el cambio climático, aunque no todos tienen la misma responsabilidad en este problema. Dentro del pacto están los países más industrializados que históricamente son los más culpables de que el planeta se esté calentando a causa de los gases de efecto invernadero lanzados a la atmósfera desde la Revolución Industrial por la quema de carbón o petróleo(como la UE, EEUU, Japón, Canadá, Rusia…). También incluye a las naciones emergentes que sin haberlo causado sí que resultan ahora decisivas para resolver el problema (como China, India, Brasil…). Y cuenta además con el apoyo de las naciones petroleras (Arabia Saudita, Qatar…) o el conjunto de los países en desarrollo.

La salida de EEUU supone que el que es hoy el segundo mayor emisor de gases de CO2 en el mundo (el primero es China) y el mayor emisor histórico desde la Revolución Industrial deja a todos los demás que resuelvan el problema. Por un lado, esto hace mucho más difícil el esfuerzo colectivo para que el aumento de la temperatura media del planeta no suba más de 2 °C (3.7°F).

Pero además provoca una muy injusta paradoja: que otros países mucho más pobres y sin ninguna culpa (incluso naciones africanas como República Democrática del Congo, Burundi, Liberia…) contribuyan al esfuerzo internacional contra el cambio climático, mientras el principal responsable mira hacia otro lado.

3. Pone en peligro la mayor oportunidad para luchar contra el cambio climático

Antes del Acuerdo de París, Naciones Unidas ya consiguió que se aprobase un tratado contra el cambio climático: el llamado Protocolo de Kioto (que obligaba a reducir emisiones solo a los países más ricos). Sin embargo, se quedó prácticamente en nada. En aquella ocasión el motivo fue… EEUU. Después de años de negociaciones, en 2001 el presidente George W. Bush decidió no ratificar el tratado.

Tras este revés, tuvieron que pasar 14 años hasta que se consiguió cerrar de nuevo un acuerdo, el de París, que por primera vez involucraba a todos los países en la lucha contra el cambio climático.

No cabe duda que la retirada de EEUU pone en peligro la mejor oportunidad que se tiene ahora mismo para luchar de forma colectiva contra el cambio climático antes de que sea ya demasiado tarde. Algunos países que se sumaron al pacto en 2015 por la presión de quedarse aislados podrían aprovechar ahora para seguir la senda de EEUU, lo que haría saltar por los aires el acuerdo. Aunque también puede pasar todo lo contrario: que todas las naciones consoliden más su unión como respuesta a EEUU. Ninguno de los dos escenarios parecen positivos para el país que preside Trump.

De momento, China y la UE ya han asegurado que continuarán con el Acuerdo de París aunque no esté EEUU.

4. Para EEUU no cambia tanto el dejarlo o no

Paradójicamente, no cambia tanto para EEUU abandonar o no el Acuerdo de París desde el punto de vista de sus acciones internas. Es de suponer que alguien se lo habrá explicado al presidente Trump, pero este pacto climático no fija obligaciones de reducción de gases para los países, sino que solo les compromete a cumplir sus propios planes nacionales ( aquí el texto del acuerdo). Se diseñó así para conseguir el apoyo de todos y para evitar el rechazo específico de EEUU.

Esto quiere decir que la política climática de EEUU no viene marcada por Naciones Unidas, sino por las normas que se pongan en marcha en el país. Hasta la llegada de Trump, estas políticas se basaban principalmente en el Plan de Energía Limpia de Obama. Pero este programa quedó bloqueado en la Corte Suprema y el nuevo presidente ya ha dado los primeros pasos para desmantelarlo.

Si el objetivo de EEUU con Obama era que EEUU redujera sus emisiones entre un 26% y un 28% para 2025 con respecto a los niveles de 2005, la consultora Rhodium Group estimó que si se cancelan las políticas energéticas del gobierno anterior entonces no se llegará a una disminución del 14%, aunque se hubiera seguido en el Acuerdo de París.

El pacto de Naciones Unidas tampoco incluye sanciones si no se cumplen los objetivos nacionales. Solo compromete a los países a presentar información transparente sobre sus emisiones para poder seguir sus progresos y, en caso de no alcanzar sus objetivos nacionales, prevé simplemente que entre en acción un comité de carácter facilitador.

Quizá Trump se planteó dejar el pacto de París para no tener que dar explicaciones sobre lo que emita o no EEUU. Pero es probable que su salida aumente todavía más la presión sobre lo que haga en materia climática. Si los otros países del mundo realizan esfuerzos para reducir sus emisiones, seguro que reclaman lo mismo a Trump, esté o no en el pacto.

5. Más tensiones entre los países y retrasos

¿La decisión de Trump hará que se dejen de realizar esfuerzos para reducir las emisiones o que salte por los aires el gran pacto internacional contra el cambio climático? Es muy difícil saber hasta qué punto puede perjudicar una decisión así la lucha contra el cambio climático. En gran medida dependerá de cómo reaccione el resto del mundo. Como hemos visto en el punto anterior, Trump puede desmantelar toda la política climática de EEUU esté dentro o no de París. Ahora bien, hay muchas empresas y estados en el país que van hace tiempo en una dirección muy distinta a la del presidente. Este miércoles, la ciudad de Nueva York mostró su compromiso con el pacto de París esté EEUU dentro o no.

No es muy creíble que Trump pueda acabar con la transformación del mundo hacia unas energías más limpias. Ahora bien, seguro que todo esto puede retrasarlo y también generar muchas tensiones entre los países.

En: univision