Rep. Amash calls out President-elect Trump

Detroit News staff

Republican U.S. Rep. Justin Amash this week called out on Twitter President-elect Donald Trump on his business dealings.

The New York businessman’s real estate holdings and licensing deals in foreign countries have elicited criticism reminiscent of Trump’s accusations that Hillary and Bill Clinton used the Clinton Foundation for “pay to play” purposes.

“You rightly criticized Hillary for Clinton Foundation. If you have contracts w/foreign govts, it’s certainly a big deal, too,” Amash tweeted late Monday, using the hashtag “Drain the Swamp” to remind his fellow Republican of the promise to rid Washington of public corruption.

Critics say Trump’s foreign business deals could overlap with foreign policy decisions once he’s in office, prompting calls for him to divest his real estate holdings or at least set up a blind trust for his assets.

Since his election two weeks ago, Trump raised eyebrows and questions of potential conflicts of interest after two businessmen from India who own Trump-branded properties near Mumbai met with him at Trump Tower.

Also, when Trump met with British politician Nigel Farage last week, he urged Farage to oppose offshore wind farms that Trump says would ruin the view from one of his Scottish golf courses, according to the New York Times.

Amash’s tweet came shortly after a tweet by Trump saying, “Prior to the election it was well known that I have interests in properties all over the world. Only the crooked media makes this a big deal!”

Kellyanne Conway, a Trump adviser and spokeswoman, told reporters Monday she is “very confident” Trump is not breaking any laws.

DeVos talks education with Trump

Michigan GOP donor and school choice advocate Betsy DeVos was one of two potential education secretary candidates who met Saturday with Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey.

The other, former Washington, D.C., schools chancellor Michelle Rhee, said Tuesday she is not pursuing a job with the administration. DeVos has not publicly discussed the prospects of working for Trump or how interested she may be in the post.

DeVos’ talk with Trump and Pence “focused on the Common Core mission, and setting higher national standards and promoting the growth of school choice across the nation,” according to the administration transition team.

Common Core could be a liability for DeVos, who is part of multiple groups that have advocated for or defended the state curriculum standards Trump has called a “disaster.”

DeVos sits on the board of the national Foundation for Excellence in Education and the Michigan-based Great Lakes Education Project, which have both previously offered support for Common Core.

A group of concerned parents last week wrote an open letter to Trump urging him to appoint an education secretary who “will work to eliminate any incentives or requirements supporting Common Core.”

Rhee, a school choice Democrat who has battled teacher unions in her bid for reform, defended her decision to meet with Trump despite warnings from some colleagues that she shouldn’t do so.

“Mr. Trump won the election. Our job as Americans is to want him to succeed,” Rhee said in a statement. “Wishing for his failure would be wanting the failure of our millions of American children who desperately need a better education.”

Rogers a ‘merger’ victim

Former Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Howell, who had been serving as a national security adviser to the Trump transition team, explained his abrupt departure last week as the result of a “merger and acquisition.”

On WILS 1320 AM, Rogers said Tuesday that “some people stay in a merger, some people go.”

“They wanted to go in a different direction. I get that,” Rogers added.

Rogers had been seen as a potential contender for a position in the new administration. Vice President-elect Mike Pence and others are heading up the reconfigured Trump transition team.

NAFTA escapes ... for now

The North American Free Trade Agreement has escaped President-elect Donald Trump’s first day of promised executive actions in the White House.

After his inauguration, the Republican businessman is promising to signal the country’s intent to withdraw from the proposed 12-nation Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal with Asia.

“Whether it’s producing steel, building cars or curing disease, I want the next generation of production and innovation to happen right here on our great homeland, America, creating wealth and jobs for American workers,” Trump said in a video message that explained his core principle of “putting America first.”

He did not mention withdrawing from NAFTA, which he has criticized for allowing Ford Motor Co. to export vehicles back into the United States with no tariffs. He argues the Dearborn automaker should be making its Mexican-built small cars and sport utility vehicles in America.

He said in numerous campaign speeches in Michigan and elsewhere that he wants to try to renegotiate the pact with Mexico and Canada before deciding whether to give six months’ notice to withdraw from the 23-year-old trade agreement.

Contributors: Melissa Nann Burke, Jonathan Oostin, Chad Livengood