The Department of Transportation’s Inspector General just released a damning report on Mitch McConnell’s wife Elaine Chao in which she is accused of misusing government resources to advance her family’s business concerns. She was Trump’s Secretary of Transportation and her family runs a shipping business with massive ties to China.
The IG referred the case to the Justice Department in December for possible criminal investigation but DOJ, in the last weeks of the Trump administration, declined to take up the case.
“A formal investigation into potential misuses of position was warranted,” Mitch Behm, the Transportation Department’s deputy inspector general, wrote to House lawmakers yesterday in a letter he sent along with his report highlighting his investigation into “use of public office for private gain.”
A statement released by a public relations firm representing Ms. Chao said: “This report exonerates the secretary from baseless accusations and closes the book on an election-year effort to impugn her history-making career as the first Asian-American woman appointed to a president’s cabinet and her outstanding record as the longest tenured cabinet member since World War II.”
From The New York Times: The investigators did not make a formal finding that Ms. Chao violated ethics rules. But they detailed more than a dozen instances where her office took steps to handle matters related to her father, who built up a New York-based shipping company after immigrating to the United States from Taiwan in the late 1950s, and to her sister, who runs the company now.
These included an interview with a Chinese-language television station at the New York City headquarters of Foremost Group, the shipping company.
The focus of the conversation there, according to a Transportation Department translation of the media plan prepared for the interview, was to discuss how Ms. Chao’s father, James Chao, had been “dubbed ‘Chinese Ship King,’ how Foremost Group ‘ascended to its status in the world,’ and Dr. Chao’s business endeavors.”
Mr. Chao, 93, who was born in China, built a business that centered around transporting commodities like coal and iron ore to the Chinese market.
Elaine Chao, his eldest daughter, who was raised in and around New York City, has been prominent in Republican politics for decades, including an eight-year term as labor secretary under President George W. Bush.
Investigative journalist and author of the book that took down Hillary, Clinton Cash, Peter Schweizer reported in January about the ties between Mitch and China.
He said, “Really, it goes to the fact that Mitch McConnell and Elaine Chao, his wife, are financially tied to the Chinese government. And it comes through the shipbuilding company that Elaine Chao’s family owns.
“That relationship was forged in December of 1993 when James Chao, Elaine Chao’s father, Elaine Chao, and the new son-in-law, Senator Mitch McConnell, visited Beijing, China, at the invitation of the China State Shipbuilding corporation.
“This was a coup to Beijing because Tiananmen square had happened just four years earlier. Very few high officials went there. The result of that meeting and the deals that followed is that today the Chinese government finances the construction of the ships for the shipbuilding company, they build the ships, they provide the crews for the ship, and they provide the cargo for the ship.
“So, the Chinese government could pull the plug tomorrow on this business. And the reason they’re doing business with them, let’s make it clear, is because Mitch McConnell is a very powerful figure in Washington, D.C. And the problem is, Steve, that his position on China has softened over the years the closer that this commercial relationship has become, and he’s a direct beneficiary of what this business does.”