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September 16, 2019

House Democrats have another investigation on their hands.

Earlier this year, reports suggested President Trump's Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao had held onto investments she was supposed to divest, and that her family's shipping company had used her ties to Trump to its benefit. So in a Monday letter, House Oversight Chair Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) requested Chao hand over documents and communication related to Chao's business and investment holdings by Sept. 30.

In the first half of the letter, Cummings discusses a June New York Times report detailing how Chao allegedly "used her connections and celebrity status in China to boost the profile" of her family's shipping business Foremost Group. Chao's DOT has reduced funding for U.S.-flagged ships, Cummings says, which could benefit her family's China-flagged company. He's asking for any of Chao's business communications with her family and Foremost, as well as any DOT employees' communications with Foremost.

Cummings then details Chao's "failure to divest" her stock in construction company Vulcan Materials Group, which was first reported by The Wall Street Journal in May. Chao wrote on a financial disclosure form that she would sell her stocks in the company, but failed to do so, Cummings says. He is similarly requesting communications between Chao and Vulcan, and between DOT employees and Vulcan.

The investigation comes as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) prepares to ramp up attacks on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Democratic aides tell Axios. Chao and McConnell are married, and their political paths have reportedly overlapped in some suspicious ways during the Trump administration. Kathryn Krawczyk

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