WASHINGTON (AP) — The Republican chairman of the House Oversight Committee, who promised before the election to investigate Democrat Hillary Clinton for years, says he will wait until President-elect Donald Trump takes office before “poking around” the businessman’s financial affairs and possible conflicts of interest.
While Rep. Jason Chaffetz is holding off on Trump, the four-term Utah lawmaker pledges to continue investigating Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state.
“There are some outstanding issues floating out there that will still take some time,” Chaffetz said in an interview Thursday.
Chaffetz said it’s only fair to wait until Trump becomes president before looking at potential conflicts involving his global business empire.
Democrats have called for investigations into Trump’s financial ties with foreign businesses and governments, as well as his lease with the U.S. government for a luxury hotel near the White House.
But Chaffetz said Thursday that Trump “needs time to get his affairs in order. When he becomes the president we’ll start providing some oversight of that.”
The comments were in stark contrast to a remark Chaffetz made before the election that he had “two years’ worth of material already lined up” to investigate Clinton, the Democratic nominee for president who lost to Trump in last month’s election.
Democrats took notice.
“For Republicans, there was no allegation too small to investigate with respect to Secretary Clinton, but now there is no scandal too big to ignore for Donald Trump,” said Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the senior Democrat on the oversight panel.
“Donald Trump’s global entanglements are unprecedented,” Cummings said, and the oversight committee should “address these conflicts of interest now instead of waiting until after he is sworn in as president.”
Trump’s business dealings, his charitable foundation and his campaign’s ties to pro-Kremlin elements in Russia and Ukraine are all areas ripe for examination by the oversight panel, Cummings and other Democrats said.
At a minimum, Trump should divest his wide-ranging assets or put them in a blind trust not operated by his children, Democrats on the committee said in a letter to Chaffetz seeking an immediate review of Trump’s financial holdings.
The letter cited media reports indicating that at least 111 Trump companies have done business in 18 countries.
Trump has broadly asserted that as president he will not be hemmed in by conflict-of-interest laws. “The law is totally on my side,” Trump told The New York Times last week.
Chaffetz echoed that view and said he was encouraged by Trump’s announcement this week that he would soon announce plans to step back from his company while he is president.
“He’s moving in the right direction,” Chaffetz said of Trump.
Chaffetz has a complicated relationship with the president-elect. He denounced Trump after the GOP nominee was caught on videotape making crude, predatory comments about grabbing women. But Chaffetz later said he would vote for Trump, calling Clinton “bad for the USA.”
Still Chaffetz said that Trump, like any president, will not be able to avoid scrutiny by the oversight committee.
“His obligation is to abide by the law,” Chaffetz said of Trump. “Our obligation is not to be a cheerleader but to actually provide oversight, and we intend to fulfill that.”
No presidential administration “likes to have Congress poking around,” Chaffetz added, “but it’s what we do.”
At least one Republican on the oversight panel agrees that Trump’s business interests deserve scrutiny.
Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., said Trump “rightly criticized Hillary” over possible conflicts of interest related to the Clinton family foundation.
“If you have contracts w/foreign govts, it’s certainly a big deal, too,” Amash wrote on Twitter, addressing Trump.
“DrainTheSwamp,” Amash added in a hashtag, referring to Trump’s campaign vow to “drain the swamp” of lobbyists, donors and political cronies in the nation’s capital.
Despite his pledge, Trump has tapped a host of insiders and campaign contributors for top posts in his administration, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., said Friday. Whitehouse urged Trump to adopt ethics rules to reduce the influence of lobbyists and “corporate special interests.”
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NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. regulators are calling out AT&T and Verizon for exempting their own video apps from data caps on customers’ cellphones.
This may not result in any changes in how the wireless carriers operate, however, as agency leaders appointed by Donald Trump, the incoming president, are expected to look more favorably on such practices.
The Federal Communications Commission sent letters to the country’s biggest wireless carriers Thursday saying the way they handle the practice, known as “zero rating,” can hurt competition and consumers. The agency had warned AT&T in November and said in its Thursday letter that AT&T’s response did not ease its concerns.
Other services — say Hulu or Netflix — can pay Verizon and AT&T so that consumers could also use those apps without eating up cellphone data. The FCC says that could harm the market for streaming services as it makes it more expensive for internet companies to compete with video services that are owned by the carriers.
For example, the FCC estimates that a video service provider would have to pay AT&T $16 a month for a customer who streamed video for 10 minutes a day without using up his data on the cellular network, or $47 a month for a user watching a half-hour a day.
Adding in those costs makes it difficult for a rival to compete on price with AT&T’s new online TV app, DirecTV Now, whose cheapest bundle costs consumers $35 a month, wrote Jon Wilkins, the head of the FCC’s wireless bureau. Competing video providers would also be at a disadvantage if they didn’t zero-rate their services at all, as consumers could need to pay for more data to watch.
AT&T Inc. said Friday that exempting apps like DirecTV Now from data caps saves customers money, and the FCC shouldn’t put a stop to that. Verizon Communications Inc. said its practices are good for consumers and comply with regulations.
Verizon lets wireless customers watch its go90 video app and NFL football, for which it has exclusive mobile rights, without using up data.
The warnings come in the final days of the FCC under President Barack Obama’s administration, which has enacted regulations intended to prevent cable companies from playing favorites with internet services.
The agency under Trump and a Republican-controlled Congress are expected to roll back or enforce more leniently such measures.
Ajit Pai, a Republican commissioner at the FCC who is seen as a candidate to be the next FCC chairman, underscored that point in a statement Friday. He said the FCC’s zero-rating warnings were “yet another broadside against free data for consumers” and warned that actions taken by the FCC now could be undone by a newly staffed FCC after Trump takes office.
The FCC still has to make a final finding on whether the zero-rating practices of AT&T and Verizon are a problem. The companies could appeal that.
NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks that moved substantially or traded heavily Friday:
Public Storage, up $1.62 to $209.48
Bond yields fell and companies that pay big dividends, including real estate trusts, traded higher.
Starbucks Corp., down $1.30 to $57.21
The coffee chain said Howard Schultz will step down as CEO in April, but will remain chairman.
Smith & Wesson Holding Corp., down $2.88 to $21.10
Investors were disappointed with the firearms maker’s guidance.
Five Below Inc., up $3.94 to $43.82
The discount retailer said its sales are off to a strong start in the holiday season.
Charles Schwab Inc., down 85 cents to $38.76
Banks slipped after a strong run over the last three weeks, partly because bond yields weakened.
Workday Inc., down $10.20 to $71.40
The human resources software maker gave a weak forecast and said some customers have delayed large deals.
Ascena Retail Group Inc., up $1.18 to $7.01
The retailer reported stronger sales than investors expected at its Ann Taylor and Dressbarn businesses.
Ambarella Inc., down $6.92 to $54.47
The video-compression chipmaker’s sales forecast fell short of Wall Street expectations.
Quitting at the top, Formula One champion Nico Rosberg shocked the world of motor racing Friday by announcing he was retiring at the age of 31, five days after earning his first world championship.
“I have decided to end my Formula One career. I had a very, very clear dream, that was to become Formula One world champion. I have achieved this childhood dream now and I am not willing to do that sort of commitment again,” Rosberg said in Vienna.
“So I have decided to follow my heart, and my heart has told me just to stop there, to call it a day.”
Rosberg said he made the decision on Monday, a day after finishing second at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to clinch the F1 title.
“I am on the peak, so this feels right,” he said.
He wrote on Facebook of the difficulties he faced over a season that took a toll on people close to him: “It was a whole family effort of sacrifice, putting everything behind our target.”
Rosberg had a strained relationship with Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton. They came up through the karting circuits to became fierce rivals in F1, constantly needling each other in the media. They dueled for the F1 championship for the last three years. Rosberg was runner-up to Hamilton in 2014 and 2015, but hung on this year to relieve Hamilton of the title in the final race.
Rosberg’s father, Keke, the 1982 F1 champion, said after watching his son in Abu Dhabi that the strain of fighting Hamilton was sapping him.
“I don’t know how much it’s taken out of him,” Keke Rosberg said on Sunday. “Maybe he retires tomorrow.”
All observers thought that was a quip. Mercedes said on its website that Rosberg “will stop racing in Formula One with immediate effect.”
Rosberg said it had been his dream, “my ‘one thing’ to become Formula One world champion. Through the hard work, the pain, the sacrifices, this has been my target. And now I’ve made it. I have climbed my mountain.”
In an online video, the German said: “I’m not willing to do it again next year.”
Rosberg won 23 races (tied for 12th all-time) and 30 pole positions (8th) from 206 races since his debut in 2006.
He began thinking of retirement after winning in Suzuka in early October, “when the destiny of the title was in my own hands.”
Mercedes chief Toto Wolff paid tribute to Rosberg for making a “brave decision.”
“He has chosen to leave at the pinnacle of his career, as world champion, having achieved his childhood dream,” Wolff said. “The clarity of his judgment meant I accepted his decision straight away when he told me.”
PHOENIX (AP) — A 14-year-old boy bolted off his school bus and ran to rescue his dog after seeing his Phoenix family’s home was on fire, authorities said.
Fire Capt. Aaron Ernsberger said the boy had just gotten on the school bus at a nearby stop Friday morning. As the bus drove by his home, the boy saw smoke coming from the house and got off the bus, Ernsberger said.
The boy went to the front door and opened it but could not enter because of smoke, flames and heat. He then ran to the back door and let the family’s 9-year-old pit bull out, Ernsberger said.
“He was smart enough to not go inside, thank God,” Ernsberger said. Otherwise, “he would not be with us today.”
News video showed smoke billowing from the home and firefighters on its roof where they cut a hole to let out smoke and heat.
No injuries were reported.
The home sustained major smoke and fire damage, Ernsberger said. “All of their belongings are a total loss.”
The cause of the fire wasn’t immediately known.
Officials previously said the boy was 16.
This story has been corrected to reflect that the Fire Department later said the boy’s age was 14, not 16.
Formula One champion Nico Rosberg stunningly retired from racing on Friday, five days after earning his first world championship.
All observers thought that was a quip. Mercedes said on its website that 31-year-old Nico Rosberg “will stop racing in Formula One with immediate effect.”