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The course would have covered leadership, ethics, and management, preparing the team for working within existing laws and executive orders, dealing with media scrutiny, and collaborating with federal agencies and members of Congress. (Photo: Ted Eytan/flickr/cc)

Trump Team Rejected Ethics Training for Staff, Cabinet, Appointees: Report

The program has been in place since 2000, but government agency told potential program operators that Trump team has 'changed its goals'

Nadia Prupis

President Donald Trump's transition team rejected a plan to provide ethics training for senior White House staff, political appointees, and cabinet members, Politico reported Thursday.

The course would have covered leadership, ethics, and management, preparing the team for working within existing laws and executive orders, dealing with media scrutiny, and collaborating with federal agencies and members of Congress, according to documents obtained by reporters Isaac Arnsdorf and Josh Dawsey.

Both the Bush and Obama White Houses received the training, which has been in place since 2000.

However, following Trump's election, the General Services Administration (GSA) sent a letter to potential bidders for the training contract such as the Partnership for Public Service informing them that transition team had "changed its goals."

"It has been determined that the requirements as defined in the RFQ [request for quotation] do not accurately reflect the current needs of the Presidential Transition Team," the GSA's contracting officer, Matthew Gormley, wrote in the January 10 letter. "As a result of a change in Presidential Transition Team leadership after the Nov. 8, 2016, election, there have been changes in the PTT's goals for the political appointee orientation program."

Arnsdorf and Dawsey write:

The changes included the transition team's desire to control all the speakers and content, according to the notice. It is unclear if the administration put in place its own program or offered any rigorous training to appointees and nominees across the government.

The revelation comes after numerous ethics violations by the Trump team. Senior adviser Kellyanne Conway was slammed for promoting Ivanka Trump's fashion brand after the department chain Nordstrom dropped her line due to lagging sales—activists encouraged a boycott of her products in response to the president's policies—but the White House Counsel's Office announced this week it would not discipline Conway, concluding that she had spoken "inadvertently."

Trump himself faces numerous ethics complaints over his refusal to divest from his family's corporate empire while in office, among other things.

"It looks like a good program, and I wish they had implemented it," Norm Eisen, a former White House ethics lawyer who now heads up the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), told Politico. "It might have spared them the numerous ethics and other messes they have encountered."

CREW filed an ethics lawsuit against Trump last month.

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