A major point of contention for President-elect Trump has been whether or not he will continue to have a role in the numerous businesses and projects that have allowed him to accrue his fortune and will inevitably continue to do so while he serves the country from the Oval Office. Just last week, in a meeting with editors and reporters from the New York Times, Trump declared that it was technically impossible for the president to have a conflict of interest, and thus he had no obligation to remove himself from his business empire. "The law's totally on my side, the president can't have a conflict of interest," said Trump. While this is technically true, given the fact that current statutes on the matter certainly did not consider the fact that a businessman of Trump’s stature would be in the White House, it does not mean that Trump’s remarks sat well with the American people.
While there is dispute as to whether Trump’s presidency would help or harm his brand and businesses, Trump seemed to believe that his victory was good for both, saying that his election certainly contributed to increased interest in the Trump brand. There has also been discussion over whether foreign leaders should be allowed to stay at Trump hotels and residences when they are on diplomatic visits, as that might garner undue favor with the Trump administration and force its diplomatic hand accordingly.
While Trump has been adamant that he need not separate his business interests from his presidential duties, he made a stark departure from that stance today, saying that he would remove himself entirely from his business initiatives. In a series of tweets, Trump announced that he would be eliminating any and all ties to the more than 500 businesses with which he is affiliated. “I will be holding a major news conference in New York City with my children on December 15 to discuss the fact that I will be leaving my great business in total in order to fully focus on running the country in order to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN! While I am not mandated to do this under the law, I feel it is visually important, as President, to in no way have a conflict of interest with my various businesses. Hence, legal documents are being crafted which take me completely out of business operations. The Presidency is a far more important task!”
Even then, however, there are still concerns over the future owners of his business empire. Trump has insinuated that he would hand over his businesses to his children, yet ethics lawyers claim that such a move is insufficient. According to CNN Money, experts are calling on Trump to establish a blind trust. “Trump would sell his assets and put the proceeds in the hands of a trustee with no preexisting business relationship with him,” following the precedent set by several presidents in the past. Additionally, Trump will need to undue the business ties to foreign countries in order to meet constitutional standards. A former chief White House ethics lawyer claims that "no matter what, they are going to have to unwind the business relationships with any foreign governments or company controlled by foreign governments."
It remains unclear as to whether or not Trump is actually prepared to make such a move, but this appears to be a step in the right direction for the President-elect, given that just last week he was declaring that he would not remove himself from any business operations.
What do you think about Trump’s claims?