Sep 16, 2019

House panel launches ethics probe into Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao

Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for Uber Elevate

The House Oversight Committee on Monday launched an ethics investigation into Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao.

The big picture: Reports allege Chao has used her position to benefit Foremost Group, a shipping company owned by her sisters and father. Chao was also accused of continuing to own stock in a construction materials company called Vulcan Materials, even though she claimed before her confirmation that she would divest. Chao later divested in June 2019 and admitted to “inadvertent misstatements of fact" in her financial disclosure report and ethics agreement.

  • According to a letter from Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), the investigation will probe decisions by the Department of Transportation to deprioritize or reduce funding for programs that benefitted U.S.-flagged vessels in foreign trade. Chao's family company owns entirely foreign-flagged ships.
  • Chao is also accused of trying to elevate the company's influence with the Chinese government. Chao appeared in Chinese-media interviews alongside her father, James Chao, who boasted about his access to President Trump, according to Politico.
  • Federal law prohibits sitting officials from using their positions to privately benefit themselves or others.

What they're saying:

“The Committee is examining your misstatements of fact, your actions that may have benefitted the company in which you continued to hold shares, and your compliance with ethics and financial disclosure requirements.”
— Cummings and Krishnamoorthi

What's next: Chao has until Sept. 30 to turn over documents and communications related to the committee's lines of inquiry.

Go deeper: 70% of Americans believe the political system is rigged

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CDC: Coronavirus antibodies could give "short-term immunity," but more data is needed

CDC Director Robert Redfield briefs reporters on April 8. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Coronavirus antibody tests are still relatively unreliable, and it's unclear if people who get the virus are immune to getting it again, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cautioned on Tuesday.

What they're saying: The agency explicitly warned against using antibody tests to determine whether someone should return to work or to group people within schools or prisons.

Trump accuses Twitter of interfering in 2020 election

President Trump speaks to the press as he departs the White House in Washington, D.C., on Thursday. Photo: Mandel Ngan/Getty Images

President Trump responded via tweets Tuesday evening to Twitter fact-checking him for the first time on his earlier unsubstantiated posts claiming mail-in ballots in November's election would be fraudulent.

What he's saying: "Twitter is now interfering in the 2020 Presidential Election.They are saying my statement on Mail-In Ballots, which will lead to massive corruption and fraud, is incorrect, based on fact-checking by Fake News CNN and the Amazon Washington Post," the president tweeted. "Twitter is completely stifling FREE SPEECH, and I, as President, will not allow it to happen!"

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 8:30 p.m. ET: 5,584,091 — Total deaths: 349,894 — Total recoveries — 2,284,242Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 8:30 p.m. ET: 1,680,301 — Total deaths: 98,875 — Total recoveries: 384,902 — Total tested: 14,907,041Map.
  3. Federal response: DOJ investigates meatpacking industry over soaring beef pricesMike Pence's press secretary returns to work.
  4. Congress: House Republicans to sue Nancy Pelosi in effort to block proxy voting.
  5. Business: How the new workplace could leave parents behind.
  6. Tech: Twitter fact-checks Trump's tweets about mail-in voting for first timeGoogle to open offices July 6 for 10% of workers.
  7. Public health: CDC releases guidance on when you can be around others after contracting the coronavirus.
  8. What should I do? When you can be around others after contracting the coronavirus — Traveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 55 mins ago - Politics & Policy