Oregon Senator Demands Ethics Probe of Trump’s Commerce Secretary

Another top Trump administration official is in hot water over apparent ethics violations.

The Senate Finance Committee’s ranking Democrat asked the Department of Justice on Monday to formally investigate whether a series of “questionable” stock trades by President Trump’s commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross, violated federal law. Ross has faced public scrutiny for keeping investments in firms linked to the Chinese government and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle since taking office.

In a letter filed with the Justice Department, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) pointed to a stinging correspondence between Ross and the US Office of Government Ethics last week. The government’s top ethics official warned the wealthy investor that certain stock holdings and trades had violated his ethics agreement with government and “created the potential for a serious criminal violation.” In addition, financial disclosures made to the Office of Government Ethics contained “various omissions and inaccurate statements” that could erode public trust in the government.

The questions hanging over Ross could create another ethics headache for an administration already plagued by scandals. According to investigative reports by Forbes and The New York Times, Ross held on to investments that presented apparent conflicts of interest after taking office last year, including shares in Navigator Holdings, a shipping firm tied to the Kremlin. Last October, Ross short-sold shares of the company as New York Times reporters prepared to publish a potentially negative article exposing the holdings, putting the commerce secretary in a position to profit even as the firm’s stock price fell.

In November, Ross submitted a sworn statement promising federal officials that he had sold all the stocks that he had committed to divesting when taking office, only to later disclose that he had held onto $20 million worth of shares in his former employer, the financial firm Invesco, before selling…

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