We Cannot Let Trump Use a National Emergency to Get Rich and Ignore the Constitution

President Donald Trump has demonstrated over the past month how much higher of a value he places on the stock market and his poll numbers than on the lives of his fellow Americans. In fact, his entire presidency has provided example after example of his own financial enrichment and political interests superseding the public good and the U.S. Constitution.

So when Trump blithely declared on Monday evening, “I’ll be the oversight” on half a trillion dollars in stimulus funding, American Oversight has this to say:

No.

Trump’s statement came during a White House press conference, in response to a question about who would oversee the unrestricted distribution of the Republican-backed relief package under consideration in the Senate. At the same press conference, the president also suggested that the economic impact of social distancing measures would result in more deaths than Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

That Trump’s consideration of ending lockdowns comes after his own business — of which he has never financially divested — began seeing the economic effects is just one reason not to trust him to oversee the $500 billion “slush fund” for corporations. His consistent downplaying of the coronavirus outbreak has illustrated clearly that his priorities are questionable at best.

“Donald Trump cannot be trusted with a blank check,” said American Oversight Executive Director Austin Evers. “At no point during this crisis has the president demonstrated, through act or honesty, that he has what it takes to put the public interest above his own efforts to juice headlines and the stock market in his favor. Putting Donald Trump in charge of oversight is like hiring Jesse James for stagecoach security.”

Meanwhile, this morning’s news brought another reminder that the Trump administration, which already had a seemingly loose grasp on the importance of constitutional norms and checks and balances, appears willing to further erode constitutional protections under the cover of a national emergency. Rep. Mark Meadows, the newly tapped interim White House chief of staff, was seen entering Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office in what the Washington Post’s Paul Kane said was his first trip to Congress as chief of staff — an action unconstitutional so long as he continues to hold his House seat. 

A backlash erupted over this report, leading Meadows to clarify this afternoon to Lisa Desjardins of PBS NewsHour that he was not yet chief of staff and that he was still a “member of Congress” but would resign later this month.

Article I of the Constitution states, “No Senator or Representative shall, during the time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil office under the authority of the United States” — and we’ll be watching closely to see if Meadows keeps his word.

But that is why organizations like American Oversight exist, and is why we will continue fighting corruption, revealing misconduct and demanding accountability. We’ve already filed more than 100 public records requests to find out more about the harmful coronavirus testing delays and corporate lobbying, as well as about whether officials have been honest with the public.

Moreover, as the president contemplates calling for an end to social distancing in a bid for a short-term poll bump, and as he and his supporters make callous calculations regarding human life and the stock market, it’s clearer than ever that he and many of his allies and administration officials should not be in a position to determine the value of anything, including federal aid.

Related Blog Posts

May 22, 2020

News Roundup: One Firing, Multiple Scandals

Agency for International Development, Athens-Clarke County - Georgia, Bexar County - Texas, Cobb County - Georgia, Dallas County - Texas, Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency, Department of Defense, Department of Education, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, Department of State, Department of the Interior, Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Georgia Department of Administrative Services, Georgia Department of Corrections, Georgia Secretary of State, Gwinnett County - Georgia, Harris County - Texas, Office of Management and Budget, Office of Personnel Management, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, Small Business Administration, State Office of the Inspector General, Texas Department of State Health Services, Travis County - Texas, Webb County - Texas
News
May 21, 2020

American Oversight Sues Administration for Documentation of Detention Center Covid Response

Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Prisons, Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Investigation Update
May 15, 2020

News Roundup: The Subversion of Justice at the Justice Department

Cobb County - Georgia, Customs and Border Protection, Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, Department of Education, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Justice, Department of the Interior, Department of the Treasury, Department of Transportation, Department of Veterans Affairs, Food and Drug Administration, Georgia Department of Corrections, Gwinnett County - Georgia, Louisiana Department of Health, Louisiana Office of the Governor, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, New Orleans Mayor's Office, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, New York City Office of the Mayor, New York Office of the Governor, New York State Department of Health, Office of Legal Counsel, Office of Management and Budget, Small Business Administration, U.S. International Development Finance Corporation, United States Postal Service, Wisconsin Elections Commission
News
May 15, 2020

The CDC Has Been Illegally Rejecting Valid FOIA Requests. We’re Suing.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Health and Human Services
Investigation Update
May 8, 2020

News Roundup: Who Will Watch the Inspectors General?

Agency for International Development, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Civil Division, Criminal Division, Department of Defense, Department of Education, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, Department of State, Department of the Air Force, Department of the Army, Department of the Treasury, Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Election Commission, Georgia Attorney General, Georgia Department of Administrative Services, Georgia Secretary of State, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Internal Revenue Service, Office of Management and Budget, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Troup County - Georgia, U.S. Department of the Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, United States Coast Guard
News
May 6, 2020

American Oversight Sues Treasury, State and HHS for Coronavirus Communications

Centers For Medicare and Medicaid Services, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of State, Department of the Treasury
Investigation Update
May 1, 2020

News Roundup: Protecting the Right to Vote During a Pandemic

Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs, Arizona Department of Homeland Security, Arizona-Mexico Commission, Central Intelligence Agency, Cobb County - Georgia, Customs and Border Protection, DeKalb County - Georgia, Department of Agriculture, Department of Defense, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, Department of the Treasury, District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department, Essex County - New Jersey, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, Florida Department of State, Florida Office of the Governor, Food and Drug Administration, Fulton County - Georgia, Georgia Secretary of State, Gwinnett County - Georgia, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Indiana Secretary of State, Iowa Secretary of State, Kentucky Secretary of State, Kentucky State Board of Elections, Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections, New Orleans, Office of Information Policy, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Richmond County - Georgia, Texas Attorney General, Texas Secretary of State, Wisconsin Elections Commission, Yuma County - Arizona
News
April 30, 2020

New Documents: Calendars of HHS Officials Involved in Reversing Health Care Nondiscrimination Protections

Administration for Children and Families, Department of Health and Human Services
Investigation Update
April 24, 2020

News Roundup: Miracle Drugs and Trump’s Alternate Reality

Albany-Dougherty County - Georgia, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers For Medicare and Medicaid Services, Chatham County - Georgia, Citizenship and Immigration Services, Cobb County - Georgia, Cook County - Illinois, Customs and Border Protection, DeKalb County - Georgia, Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Justice, Department of State, Department of the Treasury, Department of Veterans Affairs, Federal Bureau of Prisons, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Florida Department of Corrections, Food and Drug Administration, Food Safety and Inspection Service, Fulton County - Georgia, General Services Administration, Georgia Department of Community Health, Gwinnett County - Georgia, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, King County - Washington, Macon-Bibb County - Georgia, Muscogee County - Georgia, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Office of Management and Budget, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, Richmond County - Georgia, Texas Department of Health and Human Services, Veterans Health Administration
News
April 23, 2020

An Update on American Oversight’s Coronavirus Investigation: New Lawsuits and Requests

Centers For Medicare and Medicaid Services, Department of Agriculture, Department of Defense, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of the Treasury, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Food and Drug Administration, Food Safety and Inspection Service, Internal Revenue Service, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Investigation Update
April 21, 2020

The Administration’s Attempts to Stonewall Investigations of Trump FBI Headquarters Interference Stumble in Court

Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, General Services Administration, Office of Management and Budget
Investigation Update
April 17, 2020

News Roundup: Who Stands to Gain?

Department of Agriculture, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, Department of the Treasury, Department of Veterans Affairs, Federal Reserve, Florida, Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, Florida Department of Health, Florida Division of Emergency Management, Florida Office of the Governor, Georgia Department of Administrative Services, Georgia Department of Public Health, Georgia Office of the Governor, Georgia Secretary of State, Small Business Administration, Tybee Island City - Georgia, Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs, Wisconsin Senate, Wisconsin State Assembly
News
April 10, 2020

News Roundup: Corruption and Coronavirus

Agency for International Development, Census Bureau, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers For Medicare and Medicaid Services, Customs and Border Protection, Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, Department of Labor, Department of the Treasury, Executive Office for Immigration Review, Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Food and Drug Administration, Indian Health Service, Justice Management Division, Nevada Department of Health and Human Services, Nevada Department of the Administration, Office of Information Policy, Office of Legal Counsel, Social Security Administration, U.S. Department of the Navy, United States Secret Service
News
April 10, 2020

American Oversight Sues for Coronavirus-Related Records

Department of Health and Human Services, Food and Drug Administration
Investigation Update
April 3, 2020

News Roundup: Whose Stockpile, and Which States?

Broward County - Florida, Bureau of Industry and Security, California Office of the Governor, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers For Medicare and Medicaid Services, Central Intelligence Agency, Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, Department of Education, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Justice, Department of Labor, Department of State, Department of the Treasury, Duval County - Florida, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Florida Office of the Governor, Food and Drug Administration, Gadsden County - Florida, Hendry County - Florida, Jackson County - Florida, King County - Washington, Leon County - Florida, Miami-Dade County - Florida, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, New York Office of the Governor, Office of Management and Budget, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Ohio Office of the Governor, Oklahoma Department of Health, Oklahoma Office of the Governor, Osceola County - Florida, Texas Attorney General, Texas Office of the Governor, Washington Office of the Governor
News
March 30, 2020

‘We Are Flying Blind’: Health Officials’ Late February Emails Show Rising Coronavirus Concerns

King County - Washington
Investigation Update
March 28, 2020

A Pandemic Is No Time for Secrecy

News
March 27, 2020

News Roundup: Transparency and Oversight Are More Important Than Ever

Bartow County - Georgia, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers For Medicare and Medicaid Services, Cobb County - Georgia, Customs and Border Protection, DeKalb County - Georgia, Department of Commerce, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, Department of State, Department of the Treasury, Drug Enforcement Administration, Executive Office for Immigration Review, Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys, Federal Election Commission, Florida Department of State, Florida Office of the Attorney General, Florida Office of the Governor, Fulton County - Georgia, General Services Administration, Georgia Office of the Governor, Georgia Secretary of State, Gwinnett County - Georgia, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, National Security Division, Office of Management and Budget, Office of Personnel Management, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, Tennessee Valley Authority, Texas Attorney General, Texas Office of the Governor, Texas Secretary of State, U.S. Marshals Service
News
March 23, 2020

CDC Calendars from 2018 and 2019: Pandemic-Related Briefings and Meetings

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Investigation Update
News
March 20, 2020

News Roundup: Testing, Messaging and Missed Chances

Department of Commerce, Department of Justice, Department of the Treasury, Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys, Federal Communications Commission, Florida Office of the Attorney General, Georgia Attorney General, Harris County - Texas, Nevada Department of the Administration, Office of Management and Budget, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, Texas Attorney General
News
March 20, 2020

An Update on American Oversight’s Coronavirus Investigation

Administration for Children and Families, Agency for International Development, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers For Medicare and Medicaid Services, Citizenship and Immigration Services, Customs and Border Protection, Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, Department of Education, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Justice, Department of Labor, Department of State, Department of the Treasury, Department of Transportation, Department of Veterans Affairs, Federal Bureau of Prisons, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Federal Reserve, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, King County - Washington, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, New York Office of the Governor, New York State Department of Health, Office of Management and Budget, Texas Department of State Health Services, Washington State Department of Health, Wisconsin Department of Health Services
Investigation Update
March 19, 2020

Three Years of American Oversight

News
March 17, 2020

The Increase in FOIA Lawsuits Isn’t the Problem — It’s Agencies Underfunding Their Transparency Obligations

Department of Justice
News
March 13, 2020

News Roundup: Continuing Our Investigation of Coronavirus Response

Department of Defense, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of State, Department of the Treasury, Federal Reserve, Georgia Secretary of State, Texas Secretary of State, Washington State Department of Health, Wisconsin
Investigation Update
News
March 12, 2020

American Oversight Sues Trump, Kushner for Transparency in Clemency Process

Executive Office of the President, White House
Investigation Update
News
March 10, 2020

New Lawsuit: The Trump Administration’s Dangerous Financial Deregulation

Comptroller of the Currency, Department of the Treasury
Investigation Update
March 6, 2020

News Roundup: Rising Coronavirus Fears and Sinking Public Trust

Administration for Children and Families, Agency for International Development, Briscoe County - Texas, Bureau of Land Management, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers For Medicare and Medicaid Services, Cobb County - Georgia, Criminal Division, Customs and Border Protection, Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, Department of Education, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Justice, Department of Labor, Department of State, Department of the Interior, Department of the Treasury, Department of Transportation, Department of Veterans Affairs, Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Federal Reserve, Food and Drug Administration, Freestone County - Texas, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Georgia Department of Driver Services, Georgia Secretary of State, Gwinnett County - Georgia, Hall County - Texas, Hill County - Texas, Hood County - Texas, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Jones County - Texas, Kendall County - Texas, King County - Washington, Lavaca County - Texas, Leon County - Texas, Limestone County - Texas, Loving County - Texas, Morris County - Texas, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Office of Information Policy, Office of Management and Budget, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, Scurry County - Texas, Starr County - Texas, Swisher County - Texas, Texas Secretary of State, Veterans Health Administration, Victoria County - Texas, Washington State Department of Health
News
March 2, 2020

In the Documents: Read the Script for an HHS Anti-Obamacare Ad That Was Apparently Never Released

Department of Health and Human Services
Investigation Update
February 28, 2020

News Roundup: Launching Our Investigation of Trump’s Authoritarian Purges

Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, Centers For Medicare and Medicaid Services, Central Intelligence Agency, Department of Agriculture, Department of Defense, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Justice, Department of Labor, Department of State, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Florida Department of State, Hillsborough County - Florida, Leon County - Florida, National Security Agency, Office of the Director of National Intelligence
News
February 21, 2020

News Roundup: The Post-Impeachment Purge and the Knock of Authoritarianism

Centers For Medicare and Medicaid Services, Department of Defense, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, Department of Labor, Department of State, Department of the Interior, Department of the Treasury, Fish and Wildlife Service, Food and Drug Administration, Office of Management and Budget, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, United States Secret Service
News
February 21, 2020

When the Government Uses Redactions to Hide Evidence of Wrongdoing

Department of Defense, Department of Justice, Office of Management and Budget
News
February 20, 2020

Records from Trump’s Presidential Pardons Advisory Committee Must Be Available to the Public

News
February 14, 2020

News Roundup: Trump Has Learned His ‘Lesson’

Centers For Medicare and Medicaid Services, Central Intelligence Agency, Cobb County - Georgia, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, DeKalb County - Georgia, Department of Defense, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Justice, Department of State, Department of the Treasury, Department of Transportation, Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys, Federal Reserve, Florida House of Representatives, Florida Senate, Fulton County - Georgia, Georgia Secretary of State, Gwinnett County - Georgia, Kentucky Office of the Governor, Office of Information Policy, U.S. Election Assistance Commission, Wisconsin Senate, Wisconsin State Assembly
News
February 7, 2020

News Roundup: Acquittal Isn’t the End

Cobb County - Georgia, DeKalb County - Georgia, Department of Energy, Department of Justice, Department of State, Florida Department of State, Fulton County - Georgia, Georgia Secretary of State, Gwinnett County - Georgia, Office of Management and Budget
News
January 24, 2020

News Roundup: Evidence of Obstruction

Clayton County - Georgia, Department of Defense, Department of Justice, Department of State, Department of Transportation, Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Aviation Administration, Federal Communications Commission, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Office of Management and Budget, Tennessee Valley Authority, Texas Attorney General, Texas Office of the Governor, Texas Secretary of State, Texas Senate
News
January 17, 2020

News Roundup: The Evidence Continues to Mount

Centers For Medicare and Medicaid Services, Clayton County - Georgia, Department of Agriculture, Department of Defense, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Justice, Department of State, Environmental Protection Agency, Hancock County - Georgia, Jefferson County - Georgia
Investigation Update
News
January 7, 2020

Did the Trump Administration Abuse the Redactions Process?

Department of Defense, Office of Management and Budget
News
December 11, 2019

Lawsuit over Administration’s Unlawful Seizure of Trump-Putin Meeting Notes Moves Forward

Department of State, National Archives and Records Administration
Investigation Update
News
September 6, 2019

News Roundup: Trump’s Enthusiastic Support for New Drug Raises Questions

Council on Environmental Quality, Department of Education, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Justice, Department of State, Department of the Treasury, Department of Transportation, Department of Veterans Affairs, Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Food and Drug Administration, Georgia Department of Driver Services, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Securities and Exchange Commission, Texas Attorney General
News
August 27, 2019

Investigating HHS Secretary Alex Azar’s Connections to Pharmaceutical Companies

Department of Health and Human Services
Investigation Update
August 13, 2019

More Examples of Personal Email Use and Heavy-Handed Outside Influence at the VA

Department of Veterans Affairs
Investigation Update
News
June 4, 2019

Documents Reveal Extent of Koch-Funded VA Privatization Group’s Influence

Department of Veterans Affairs
Investigation Update
May 30, 2019

Trump Administration Appeals Court Decision Ordering It to Turn Over Communications with Congress About ACA Sabotage

Congress, Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Management and Budget
Investigation Update
April 2, 2019

Federal Judge Rejects Administration’s Argument for Withholding Communications with Congress about ACA Sabotage

Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Management and Budget
News
March 8, 2019

Watchdogs Sue HHS Following Women’s Health Website Overhaul

Department of Health and Human Services
News
March 1, 2019

HHS Secretary Azar Calendars Show Multiple Meetings with Conservative Health-Care Groups

Department of Health and Human Services
News
February 21, 2019

New Lawsuit Seeks HHS Communications with Anti-Abortion Groups

Department of Health and Human Services
News
December 12, 2018

Audit the Wall: No Plans, Funding or Timeline — And No Wall

Customs and Border Protection, Department of Homeland Security, Department of State
Investigation Update
June 6, 2018

USTR Emails Reveal Tensions, Inconsistencies in Trump Administration’s NAFTA Strategy

Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
Investigation Update
March 9, 2018

American Oversight Sues HHS and CMS for Verma Ethics Records

Centers For Medicare and Medicaid Services, Department of Health and Human Services
News
December 20, 2017

American Oversight Expands Investigation into Tax Bill

Department of the Treasury, Office of Management and Budget
Investigation Update
November 30, 2017

New FOIAs Seek Treasury Department’s Secret Tax Bill Analyisis

Department of the Treasury
Investigation Update
November 3, 2017

American Oversight Launches ‘NAFTA Watch’

Department of Commerce, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
Investigation Update
October 31, 2017

American Oversight Sues State Department for Records Showing Efforts to Compel Mexico to Pay for Border Wall

Department of State
News
October 17, 2017

Health Care Lawsuit: Fighting for Transparency

Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Management and Budget
Investigation Update
September 15, 2017

Congress Enters Legal Fight to Block Release of Obamacare Repeal Emails

Congress, Department of Health and Human Services
Investigation Update
September 13, 2017

“News to Me!” – Inside the Health Care Emails

Office of Management and Budget
Investigation Update
September 7, 2017

Third Set of Health Care Emails Again Shows Trump Administration Effort to Hide Negotiations

Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Management and Budget
Investigation Update
August 2, 2017

New Health Care Documents Show Effort to Hide Details of Negotiations

Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Management and Budget
Investigation Update
July 20, 2017

American Oversight Sues HHS and OMB For Secret Trump Letter Outlining Plan to Weaken Obamacare

Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Management and Budget, White House
Investigation Update
July 19, 2017

American Oversight Demands Answers about Outsourcing of Carrier Jobs

Department of Commerce, Department of the Treasury, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
Investigation Update
News
July 11, 2017

Investigation of Trump Administration Actions and the AT&T-Time Warner Merger

Department of Justice
News
June 16, 2017

Watchdog Group Files Lawsuit on Trump Border Wall

Customs and Border Protection, Department of Homeland Security, Department of the Interior, Office of Management and Budget
Investigation Update
May 4, 2017

Watchdog Files Lawsuit, Seeks Injunction for HHS, OMB Health Care Negotiation Record

Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Management and Budget
Investigation Update
March 24, 2017

American Oversight Launches Investigation of President Trump’s Border Wall

Department of Homeland Security
Investigation Update
March 23, 2017

American Oversight Demands Release of Secret Health Care Negotiations

Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Management and Budget
Investigation Update