Trump Tweets Do Not Solve Massive Conflicts of Interest: Statement of Karen Hobert Flynn, Common Cause President
- David Vance
President-elect Trump’s promise to leave his businesses “in total” to focus on the presidency needs to be backed up by details that demonstrate that the President and his administration will focus solely on what is best for the American people, not what advances Trump’s business empire. His tweeted announcement indicates he plans to be “completely out of business operations” but he leaves open the possibility that he or members of his family or business associates will retain an ownership interest in his international empire.
That’s unacceptable. Mr. Trump must fully surrender ownership – not just management or operations – of his interests to a true blind trust or its equivalent. His promises to “drain the swamp” in Washington can’t be reconciled to actions that fill it with alligators; it’s troubling that while Mr. Trump apparently now recognizes that it’s important “to in no way have a conflict of interest with [his] various businesses,” he continues to be vague and fill his cabinet with a team of billionaires whose conflicts of interest rival his own.
These are not just legalistic exercises. President-elect Trump may think this is about him, but it’s about protecting the American people. He may not understand how what he perceives as a “good business deal” selling of public assets to private interests will actually cost taxpayers and consumers in the long run.
A new Rasmussen Reports poll finds that public concern over these conflicts is growing rapidly. The poll found that 60% of Americans are growing concerned (44% very concerned) with Trump’s business interests. As they get to know the conflicts of interest of many of his cabinet nominees to date will make that concern grow considerably.
We expect Mr. Trump to spell out his plans in detail in his promised December 15 announcement; we hope he will lay out a plan to totally divest himself of his businesses and place assets in a true blind trust. If he believes he can avoid conflicts of interest simply by turning the companies over to his children, as he has previously suggested, he is sorely mistaken. Companies around the world do business every day with Trump-owned firms; any connection, however remote, between Mr. Trump and those businesses risks putting him in violation of the Constitution’s emoluments clause, which prohibits the President from receiving any benefit from a foreign government.