Another woman has taken aim at Donald Trump. His family business is right in her bullseye, and she wants to take it down. Representative Katherine Clark introduced a bill to restrict U.S. presidents’ conflicts of interests, both in financial assets and responsibilities. Right now presidents and vice presidents are exempt. So what is the Massachusetts representative planning?
In a press release,Clark wrote that her Presidential Accountability Act dissolves the current exemption and forces the two highest officers in the country to put all of their assets in a certified blind trust. That means Trump’s kids cannot run his business, if the act should pass into law.
The act also gives an alternative:
‘Disclose to the Office of Government Ethics and the public when they make a decision that affects their personal finances.’
The reason Clark brought her legislation is because of all Trump’s conflicts of interest, which have come up in just the first week of his transition period. Under the Trump Organization umbrella, he has 500+ wide-ranging businesses. The week of the election his organization had a grand opening for a new hotel in the Old Post Office Pavilion in Washington, D.C., where he holds a federal contract to run it.
Since, the president-elect refused to release his tax statements, no one knows what kind of debt Trump has with foreign banks, let alone other corporate interests and issues. Clark’s press release said:
‘The President-elect’s business interests present an unprecedented level of conflict. Trump has also appointed his children to serve in leadership positions on both the President-elect’s transition team and his businesses. Clark’s Presidential Accountability Act prohibits the President from engaging in government responsibilities from which they or their families can benefit financially.’
‘The President of the United States has the power to affect how our tax dollars are spent, who the federal government does business with, and the integrity of America’s standing in a global economy. Every recent president in modern history has taken steps to ensure his financial interests do not conflict with the needs of the American people.
‘The American people need to be able to trust that the President’s decisions are based on the best interests of families at home, and not the President’s financial interests.’
Nearly all presidents within recent memory placed their businesses and assets in blind trusts or some investment vehicle that they did not control, including Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama.
The Wall Street Journal suggested in an editorial that Trump’s “best option” is to divest himself of his businesses:
‘The political damage to a new Administration could be extensive. If Mr. Trump doesn’t liquidate, he will be accused of a pecuniary motive any time he takes a policy position.’
The Trump campaign ruthlessly attacked his presidential opponent Hillary Clinton for ties to her family’s charitable foundation during the time she was secretary of state.
‘Millions of Americans have put their trust in Mr. Trump to succeed as President and improve their lives, not treat this as a four-year hiatus from his business.’
Both Trump and his vice president are supposed to release annual financial disclosures as long as they are in office. But will they?
Full text of H.R. 6340 is available here.