- Transition « Trump Jan. 11, 2017 Press
Conference -- Avoiding Conflicts of Interest
Trump's Plan to Avoid Conflicts of InterestEd. Note. On Jan. 11, Donald Trump held his first press conference since July, a free-wheeling affair at Trump Tower in New York, during which he addressed the question of how he would avoid conflicts of interest. The transition provided a white paper, "Conflicts of Interest and the President," prepared by Morgan Lewis. A key passage states:
President-Elect Trump will relinquish management of his investment and business assets for the duration of his Presidency. To accomplish this, all of President-Elect Trump’s investment and business assets, commonly known as The Trump Organization—comprised of hundreds of entities—have been or will be conveyed to a Trust, which will be managed for the duration of his Presidency by his sons, Don and Eric, and a Trump executive, Allen Weisselberg. Collectively—and unanimously—Allen, Don, and Eric will have the authority to manage The Trump Organization and have full decision-making authority for the duration of the Presidency, without any involvement whatsoever by President-Elect Trump. To implement this transfer, President-Elect Trump will resign from all official positions he holds with The Trump Organization entities.
Critics were not satisfied. For example, the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington responded that, "It is absurd to believe he will have no knowledge of his business, when he will continue to own it, and it will be run by his children."
Democratic National Committee
DNC: Plan Allows Trump To Be Bribed, Money FunneledWashington, DC - DNC National Press Secretary Adrienne Watson released the following statement in response to President-elect Trump’s refusal to turn over ownership of Trump Organization.
“Not only is he refusing to divest from the Trump Organization, he’s refusing to meet even the most basic of ethical standards. He laid out no independent check to ensure accountability, no mechanism to provide transparency to the American people and no way to adequately prevent coordination between Trump’s sons and their father.
“This is a sham that raises more questions than answers and is designed to distract from the most extensive conflicts of interest in the history of the American presidency.”
2. Until Trump makes the most basic financial disclosures – his tax returns and his business dealings at home and abroad – there is no way to know whether he is making decisions in the Oval Office that will affect his business interests. Last year, Trump estimated he has 120 foreign deals currently in the works.
3. This violates Trump’s previous promise that Trump Organization would make no new deals while he is in office. Because he did not cede ownership of the company, he will profit financially from any new deals.
4. This is no real change from how Trump Organization currently operates. Trump’s children already sit atop the Trump Organization hierarchy, between their father and the rest of the company.
5. Trump repeatedly attacked self-enrichment and conflicts of interest in Washington while on the campaign trail. Now that he will be president, he is taking unprecedented advantage of loopholes to preserve his own business interests.
6. Ethics experts from both parties and the Office of Government Ethics agree: Trump must sell his assets and put the proceeds in a blind trust in order to adequately address his conflicts of interest
Without disclosure of his tax returns and other details about the Trump Organization’s deals, it will be impossible to know whether Trump is making decisions based on the country’s interests or his own.
MARCH 2016: TRUMP SAID HE HAD 120 FOREIGN DEALS IN PROGRESS
TRUMP’S PLAN IS AN OPEN DOOR FOR BRIBERY AND WOULD CREATE A CONSTITUTIONAL CRISIS THE DAY HE IS SWORN IN
Norm Eisen: “Tragically, The Trump Plan To Deal With His Business Conflicts Announced Today Falls Short In Every Respect.” [@RyanLizza, Twitter, 1/11/17]
Norm Eisen: Trump’s Business Plan Will “Precipitate An Ethics And Constitutional Crisis From The Day He’s Sworn In.” [@MMurrayPolitics, Twitter, 1/11/17]
Ethics Expert Meredith McGehee: “There’s A Sharp Distinction Between What’s Legal And What’s Ethical. Plan’s A Far Cry From The Highest Ethical Standards Expected Of Presidency.” [@IOMcGehee, Twitter, 1/11/17]
Meredith McGehee: “Having His Kids Control The Trump Org Means The U.S. Moves Closer To Banana Republic And Further Away From The Shining City On The Hill.” [@IOMcGehee, Twitter, 1/11/17]
Ryan Lizza: “Trump Has Literally Melded His Personal Businesses With The US Government And Has Announced A Pathway For Foreigners To Submit Bribes.” [@RyanLizza, Twitter, 1/11/17]
This is no real change from how Trump Organization currently operates. Trump’s children already sit atop the Trump Organization hierarchy, between their father and the rest of the company, and bring him deals on an informal basis with no paper trail.
TRUMP ORGANIZATION RUNS LIKE A “MOM AND POP” SHOP WHERE THE CHILDREN SIT BETWEEN DONALD TRUMP AND THE REST OF THE COMPANY
TRUMP CHILDREN COMMUNICATE WITH THEIR FATHER INFORMALLY ABOUT DEALS, AND THERE IS NO PAPER TRAIL ON DECISION-MAKING IN THE COMPANY
This violates Trump’s previous promise that the Trump Organization would make no new deals while he is in office.
TRUMP ANNOUNCED THAT HIS BUSINESS WOULD NOT MAKE ANY “NEW DEALS” DURING HIS TIME IN OFFICE
Donald Trump: “Presidency. Two Of My Children, Don And Eric, Plus Executives, Will Manage Them. No New Deals Will Be Done During My Term(s) In Office.” [Twitter, @realDonaldTrump, 12/12/16]
Trump repeatedly attacked self-enrichment and conflicts of interest in Washington while on the campaign trail.
TRUMP COMPARED WASHINGTON TO A THIRD WORLD COUNTRY “RUN BY A SMALL HANDFUL OF CORRUPT PEOPLE FOR THEIR PERSONAL ENRICHMENT
Trump: “This Is What We Often See In Third World Countries, Where The Governments Are Often Run By A Small Handful Of Corrupt People For Their Personal Enrichment.” TRUMP: “Hillary believes money and power, not truth and justice should rule the day. As FDR once said, ‘Government by organized money is just as dangerous as government by organized crime.’ Interesting statement. Interesting statement. This is what we often see in third world countries, where the governments are often run by a small handful of corrupt people for their personal enrichment. Corruption is corrosive to every institution of government, and it must be stopped. Restoring honesty to our government and the rule of law to our society will be my highest priority as president.” [Trump Campaign Rally, Golden CO, 10/29/16]
Democrats, Republicans, and experts from across the aisle agree: Trump must sell his assets and put the proceeds in a blind trust in order to adequately address his conflicts of interest.
ETHICS EXPERTS FROM BOTH SIDES OF THE AISLE AGREE THAT TRUMP MUST SELL HIS BUSINESS TO AVOID CONFLICTS OF INTEREST
Jordan Libowitz, CREW Communications Director: “It Looks To Us That He’s Clearly Not Able To Maintain A Blind Trust And Still Keep The Company Under His Ownership And, Frankly, Control…We Really Think That The Best Thing He Can Do Is Sell The Company.”[Huffington Post, 11/19/16]
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington
CREW STATEMENT ON TRUMP PRESS CONFERENCE
Washington, DC—In response to President-elect Trump’s press conference in which he failed to adequately address his massive conflict of interest issues, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) Executive Director Noah Bookbinder released the following statement:
“The only way for Donald Trump to avoid massive conflicts of interest is to sell his business outside the family and place the assets in a true blind trust, where he will not have any way of knowing or influencing how the assets are allocated. By refusing to divest, Trump is breaking decades of precedent, just as he did with his refusal to release his tax returns. He has failed to live up to the ethical standard of past presidents including Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, and all others of the past 40 years.
He will continue to own his business, which will continue to have foreign interests. It is absurd to believe he will have no knowledge of his business, when he will continue to own it, and it will be run by his children. He claims that he will only know what he reads in newspapers, but newspapers report which foreign dignitaries are staying at his hotel. His businesses all have his name on them in giant gold letters. He will know what they are and what legislation, regulations, or actions will benefit or hurt them.
He’s not worried about conflicts of interest because the statutes don’t apply to the president. If that sounds familiar, it was the position Nixon took when he told David Frost ‘when the president does it, that means it is not illegal.’ Just because it’s not illegal, does not mean it is right or moral. Every decision he will make as president will be followed by the specter of doubt, and will be questioned as to whether his decision is in the best interest of the American people or the best interest of his bottom line. He will also face questions about whether he is violating the constitution by taking payments from foreign governments on a daily basis. Today was his first test as president. He failed.”
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is a non-profit legal watchdog group dedicated to holding public officials accountable for their actions. For more information, please visit www.citizensforethics.org or contact Jordan Libowitz at 202-408-5565 or jlibowitz@citizensforethics.
The message you have just received was delivered by Mike Huckabee and includes a message from Huck PAC, his political action committee.
Like President-elect Trump or not, you have to give him credit: he’s a genius at trolling the media. He called a press conference today, and reporters no doubt arrived raring to go after him on the Russian issue (and the latest ridiculous non-issue) and his alleged financial conflicts of interest.
Instead, he quickly dispensed with the tax and Russian questions (also deftly disarming the reporters by praising the professionalism of those who debunked the latest sordid tale and telling them his estimation of them had gone up). Then he immediately introduced an attorney to explain how he is going beyond legal requirements in turning over his business to his sons and completely separating himself and his daughter Ivanka from all business decisions. It was even illustrated with a table piled high with a mountain of folders full of legal documents that not only served to illustrate the immense gravity of the separation but also implicitly mocked the reporters, practically daring them, “Go ahead, read all this and try to find something shady!”
I think maybe part of the reason why people in show business hate Trump so much is jealousy. He is so much better at theatrical staging than they are.