Washington — Assistant to the President and Director of Strategic Initiatives Christopher Liddell may have broken criminal conflict of interest laws by participating in meetings between President Trump and companies in which he appears to have held millions of dollars in stock, according to a complaint filed today by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) with White House Counsel Donald McGahn.
Criminal law prohibits a federal employee like Liddell from participating personally and substantially in any particular matter to which, to his knowledge, he has a financial interest. On January 23rd, Liddell participated with Trump in a meeting with business leaders from 12 companies, including 10 in which Liddell appears to have held stock worth approximately $2.1 million: Arconic, Corning, Dell Technologies, Dow Chemical, Ford Motor Co., International Paper, Johnson & Johnson, Lockheed Martin, Tesla Motors and Whirlpool.
The next day, he and Trump held a meeting with General Motors, Ford Motors and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to discuss new factories. Liddell and his wife apparently held $72,000 of stock in Ford and GM. On February 3rd, Liddell again participated in a meeting with business leaders representing companies in which he apparently owned $2.3 million of stock: BlackRock, GM, IHS Markit LTD, IMB, JP Morgan Chase, Pepsi, Tesla and Walmart.
“Criminal conflict of interest rules exist to protect the American people from government officials using their power to enrich themselves,” CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder said. “It appears that Liddell may have violated these laws with his participation in closed door meetings between the president and companies in which Lidell held millions of dollars of stock.”
According to Liddell, who is the former CFO of GM, Trump will again meet with representatives of the auto companies tomorrow in Detroit.
“This marks the latest in an already too-long list of ethics letters CREW has sent to McGahn,” Bookbinder said. “The White House must show that potential ethics violations will be taken seriously and thoroughly investigated.”
CREW has already sent McGahn two letters regarding Kellyanne Conway’s improper use of office to benefit the president’s family, as well as multiple complaints about apparent violations of the Federal Advisory Committee Act.