Statement Issued by Norm Eisen, former chief White House ethics lawyer for President Obama and Richard Painter, former chief White House ethics lawyer for President George W. Bush
Trump’s Announcement Regarding His Businesses: A Step In the Right Direction That Still Falls Short
The president elect this morning said on Twitter that he will announce details on December 15 of how he will completely exit his “business operations” That’s not enough. Although it is of course important that he have no involvement in Trump business operations, in order to avoid conflicts, he must also exit the ownership of his businesses through using a blind trust or equivalent. Otherwise he will have a personal financial interest in his businesses that will sometimes conflict with the public interest, and constantly raise questions.
For example, unless he divests ownership, he will have an interest in the foreign government payments and benefits that flow to his businesses daily. That creates such a serious conflict of interest that the framers of the constitution prohibited it for the president in the emoluments clause. Far smaller potential conflicts led every president for four decades to do a blind trust or the equivalent, and so should Trump. All that said, we have to wait for the details, and if he goes the true blind trust, we will be the first to support it.