Mar 15, 2018

The Trump Cabinet members accused of splurging

President Donald Trump stands beside Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson. Photo: Jabin Botsford / The Washington Post via Getty Images

The days of President Trump boasting about how his cabinet had “by far the highest IQ of any cabinet ever assembled” are over. As Axios' Jonathan Swan has reported, Trump and his chief of staff John Kelly are becoming increasingly frustrated with stories of cabinet secretaries' frivolous spending on taxpayers' dime.

The big picture: At least six current or former cabinet officials have been swept up in investigations over splurging on expensive renovations or luxurious travel.

  1. Former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price was forced to resign in September for repeatedly using costly military planes for overseas and domestic travel.
  2. Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin has been under fire for using government funds to fly his wife to Europe and stipend her meals. Shulkin's chief of staff later stepped down after an investigation found she doctored an email and misled officials to gain approval for the trip.
  3. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has faced backlash for traveling first-class and using a military jet to fly to Rome. And per WashPo, he also used $43,000 in public funds to install a soundproof phone booth in his office.
  4. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's use of private and military aircraft were called into question last fall, and an investigation later found that he had failed to keep complete records of his travel.
  5. HUD Secretary Ben Carson and his wife Candy picked out a $31,000 dining set for his office, according internal emails obtained by CNN.
  6. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin faced inquiries last fall for having requested a government jet for his honeymoon and using a government jet to travel to Kentucky, a trip that coincided with the August eclipse. Mnuchin said the honeymoon story was "misreported" and denied his Kentucky trip was related to the eclipse.

Go deeper: Donald Trump's cabinet full of trouble

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 p.m. ET: 6,703,686 — Total deaths: 393,393 — Total recoveries — 2,906,748Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 p.m. ET: 1,885,197 — Total deaths: 108,708 — Total recoveries: 485,002 — Total tested: 18,680,529Map.
  3. Public health: WHCA president says White House violated social-distancing guidelines to make reporters "a prop" — Jailing practices contribute to spread.
  4. States: Cities are retooling public transit to lure riders back.
  5. Jobs: Better-than-expected jobs report boosts stock market.
  6. Media: The Athletic lays off 8% of staff, implements company-wide pay cut.

Scoop: German foreign minister to travel to Israel with warning on annexation

Heiko Maas. Photo: Michael Kappeler/picture alliance via Getty Images

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas is expected to travel to Israel next week to warn that there will be consequences if Israeli leaders move forward with plans to annex parts of the West Bank, Israeli officials and European diplomats tell me.

Why it matters: Israeli and European officials agree that if Israel goes ahead with unilateral annexation, the EU will respond with sanctions.

Minneapolis will ban police chokeholds following George Floyd's death

A memorial for George Floyd at the site of his death in Minneapolis. Photo: Steel Brooks/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Minneapolis has agreed to ban the use of police chokeholds and will require nearby officers to act to stop them in the wake of George Floyd's death, AP reports.

Why it matters: The agreement between the city and the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, which has launched an investigation into Floyd's death while in police custody, will be enforceable in court.