House Oversight Chair Says Trump Didn't Want to Discuss 'Oversight' in Meeting

Rep. Jason Chaffetz said Trump made the comments at a recent meeting.

ByBenjamin Siegel
February 07, 2017, 8:50 PM

— -- Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, said President Donald Trump told him not to discuss "oversight" during a meeting Tuesday.

"Before my bum even hit the chair the president said, ‘No oversight, you can’t talk about anything that has to do with oversight,'" he told reporters on Capitol Hill Tuesday afternoon after the 30-minute meeting.

Chaffetz said his committee's investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server as secretary of state didn't come up in the Oval Office meeting.

Instead, Chaffetz said the men, along with Trump's chief of staff, Reince Priebus, discussed postal and civil service reform in a rare one-on-one meeting with the president in the Oval Office.

Chaffetz said he also discussed his opposition to Bears Ears National Monument, a monument designated in his congressional district by President Obama that Chaffetz called an "abuse of American power."

"He’s naturally inquisitive and he peppered me with a number of questions on all of the topics," he said of Trump.

The meeting came about, Chaffetz said, after he spoke briefly with Trump at the GOP policy retreat in Philadelphia on Jan. 26, where Trump told him,"'Feel free to investigate anything you want, that's your job.'"

"He's not going to put a heavy hand in one direction or another. We have a job to do and we're going to do it," Chaffetz said Tuesday.

Asked if he thought Trump was buttering him up, Chaffetz said the meeting wasn't unusual given his position and close relationship with Priebus.

Democrats have pushed Chaffetz to conduct vigorous oversight of Trump's White House and his financial dealings, and his lease of the Old Post Office building in Washington - the site of a Trump International Hotel - from the federal government. They argue that Trump is violating a part of the agreement preventing elected officials from benefiting from a government lease.

Chaffetz, who said Trump is exempt from federal conflict-of-interest laws, requested a copy of the lease agreement from the General Services Administration. His committee is currently reviewing the document.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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