The Price of the Presidency: Donald Trump’s Conflicts of Interest
Nearly ten days ago, when President-elect Donald Trump met with the prime minister of Japan at his gaudy home in Trump Tower, his daughter, Ivanka Trump, was also present at the meeting. Why is this seemingly harmless tableau an issue?
Even more concerning than the blatant nepotism therein is the fact that Ivanka knows what is best for Trump’s pockets—and so does Trump. Ivanka currently presides and will continue to preside over her father’s business interests at the Trump Organization. Her presence in this meeting signals that a Trump administration will be rife with conflicts of interest, and indignantly so.
Ivanka Trump sat in on her father's meeting today with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, per handout photo pic.twitter.com/tEbfYYeJFA
— Jennifer Epstein (@jeneps) November 18, 2016
According to the New York Times, it appears that Trump is already moving to utilize the presidency to influence foreign leaders on behalf of his businesses. He reportedly progressed on a building site after speaking to the president of Argentina, took a business meeting with Indian business partners in-between selecting cabinet members, and railed against wind farms with British leadership, since a wind farm is supposed to be built near his Scotland golf course, which Trump strongly opposes.
We also know that Trump has a long list of foreign creditors, one including the Bank of China, as well as Deutche Bank, which is currently under fire from the Justice Department for its role in the 2008 mortgage crisis. Lucky for Trump (and Deutche), the President selects the head of the Justice Department. You see the problem here.
What is most concerning is that, unless Trump truly disentangles himself from his businesses, the presidency could be for sale. What could Trump give in exchange for what he wants (which is always more money)?
He could sell access to himself, the President of the United States and our state secrets. Trump could turn a blind eye to international abuses, and he could increase or limit military aide based on what is best for his pockets. He could damage international alliances by refusing to follow through according to the interests of those with whom he is doing personal business.
With Trump’s children in on his diplomatic meetings as well as in control of his business holdings, it would be irresponsible to ignore the very possibility that the Trump family will do all it can to profit from Trump’s seat of power.
It is nauseating to think that Donald Trump, as our international representative, will seek ways to make money from the presidency—and we know that he will try, according to his history of fraud and corruption. Trump, in his business practices, routinely stiffed small business contractors, defrauded Americans out of their savings with his “Trump University” scam, lost $916 million in one year and likely has not paid federal income taxes since then.
The point here is that Trump will continue to look out for Trump, even as he assumes the presidency. He has already told the New York Times that he does not intend to disentangle himself, since there are technically no laws preventing the president from having a conflict of interest.
According to The Root, however, Representative Katherine Clark has proposed a bill entitled the “Presidential Accountability Act,” which would require presidents and vice presidents to put their assets in a certified blind trust or disclose decisions that impact their personal income to the Office of Government Ethics, as well as the public. The text of the bill can be found here.
While it is unclear whether this bill will gain any traction in a Republican controlled House of Representatives and Senate, we can all make our voices heard by contacting our Representatives and letting them know that Donald Trump’s conflicts of interest are not business as usual.
Photo Credits: Flickr