Editor’s Note: Much has been said about President-Elect Donald Trump’s business conflicts of interest. We wanted to share with you this piece from nonpartisan nonprofit Common Cause.
Americans expect their President to be completely above reproach on ethics and transparency, and to put the business of the nation first. Donald Trump’s actions and rhetoric to date have been tone deaf to legitimate concerns raised about the myriad ways his business empire raises serious conflict of interest problems during the transition, as well as when he takes office. The President-elect has made a series of troubling statements stating that president cannot have conflicts of interest.
There is no way that the President-elect can maintain any sort of effective firewall between the White House and his business holdings if they are controlled by his children. Mr. Trump must liquidate his holdings and create a true blind trust administered by individuals with no link to the Trump family or businesses. A failure to completely separate himself and his family from his personal fortune would reduce our nation to a something far closer to Putin’s Russia than Lincoln’s United States.
Since the election, the Trump transition team has reportedly sought top-level security clearances for the very children he proposes will run his business while he runs the nation. In addition, his children have been present in recent days for meetings with foreign heads of state and his son-in-law is reportedly being considered for a top White House position. The actions by Mr. Trump and his children in the days since his election are inappropriate and will undermine the integrity of his Administration. The innumerable conflicts between the interests of the nation and the interests of his business will prove a constant distraction and a major impediment to his Administration’s ability to govern and further it will undermine the credibility of the United States.
Mr. Trump needs to liquidate his business holding and place the funds into a blind trust as is presidential custom. He must eliminate the temptation and the inevitable distraction inherent in his holdings. His current proposal to turn his business empire over to his kids does not even begin to address the very serious conflicts of interests he would face in office, nor does it pass the laugh test. The nation expects and deserve far more from its leader.