Statement of Democracy 21 President Fred Wertheimer
In his first two weeks as president-elect, Donald Trump already has shown that he will be a walking conflict of interest until he divests his business empire.
President-elect Trump’s original proposal to deal with these issues is an illusion. He proposed to place his business empire in a “blind trust” to be run by his children. That, of course, is the opposite of a real blind trust.
In a real blind trust, control and management of an official’s assets are transferred to an independent trustee who cannot communicate with the official about the trustee’s management of the assets in the trust. The trustee can then sell the assets and purchase new assets without the official having any information about the transactions.
It’s important to recognize that the Trump organization has financial dealings in countries all over the world and that many of its transactions involve simply licensing the Trump name.
As long as the Trump name is involved in its business activities, individuals, corporations and countries all over the world will assume that doing business with the Trump organization is the way to buy influence with the president of the United States. And it will certainly create this appearance.
Furthermore, doing business deals with the children and relatives of a country’s leader is a time- honored way for corrupt practices to occur around the world.
President-elect Trump must divest his business empire and put his assets in a real blind trust, not a phony one. President-elect Trump must end the licensing of the Trump name.
President-elect Trump has given no indication that he is willing to take these steps.
Democracy 21 strongly urges Congress, as one of its first acts, to pass legislation to require President Trump to put his assets in a blind trust that complies with the blind trust requirements of the Ethics in Government Act. This is essential in order to prevent the widespread conflicts of interest and appearance of conflicts of interest that will otherwise occur.