Treasury Department Is Stonewalling Inquiries About Legally Sketchy Trump Business Associates Abroad

The Treasury Department is stonewalling inquiries seeking information about President Trump’s business ties abroad, according to the top Democrat on the Senate Banking Committee.

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) has for months been asking Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin if Trump Organization ties have been vetted by officials for compliance with a bevy of federal laws and regulations.

In a letter released to the public on Tuesday, the lawmaker said the Department isn’t answering these questions. Brown accused Mnuchin’s staff of having “altogether missed the point of my inquiry” with its latest “one-paragraph response,” pertaining simply to conflict of interest policy.

Brown has been asking Mnuchin since March for details about Trump’s partners and associates that “have been or would be vetted by Treasury for potential conflicts” with US laws on sanctions, terrorist financing, foreign corruption, money laundering, and the Bank Secrecy Act.

Brown has also been seeking information about Trump-related business partners that could be flagged for concerns by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).

The body is an obscure inter-agency organ, chaired by the Treasury Secretary. It was founded during the height of the Cold War to determine if foreign control of an American business impacted “the national security of the United States,” in the words of CFIUS.

Brown told Mnuchin to ask Trump to divulge associates that could bring up compliance concerns “[i]f you have not received such a list.”

The lawmaker said this should be done so that “appropriate officials within the US Intelligence Community may assess [associates] and alert [Trump] and members of his family” to past or future risks posed to the administration.

“I am sure that the President, his children, and the firms they now control would want to sever their ties with any such actors — or at least ensure going forward that compliance programs within the Trump Organization are sufficiently strong to enable them to identify any problematic business associates and respond accordingly,” Brown said.

The senator had last brought up these compliance issues with Mnuchin just two weeks ago, at a May 18 Senate Banking Committee hearing. Mnuchin told Brown to “just send me a note on what you are looking for.” Brown replied that he already had.

The lawmaker’s initial inquiry, dated March 2, noted that Trump, unlike his predecessors, “has elected to not divest himself of investments that pose potential conflicts of interest.”

According to Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, the Trump Organization isn’t complying with the Emoluments Clause — the part of the US Constitution forbidding the President from accepting gifts from foreign state actors.

The Trump Organization itself had claimed that it wasn’t practical “to identify individual travels who have not specifically identified themselves as being a representative of a foreign government entity on foreign government business.”

Cummings replied last week, saying that if the Trump organization was incapable of sniffing out possible Emoluments violations, then the President should “divest his ownership or submit a proposal to Congress to ask for our consent.”