Out of all the news from Wednesday -- Trump's comments on Russia, Rex Tillerson's confirmation hearing, the Senate taking its first major step to repeal Obamacare -- the biggest might have been ethics experts saying that President-elect Donald Trump's announced plan to separate himself from his business doesn't go far enough. And as a result, they say, Trump is potentially triggering a constitutional crisis. His plan includes handing over business operations to his sons and placing his assets in a trust, but not a blind one controlled by an independent actor. The problems with Trump's plan?
"I don't think divestiture is too high a price to pay to be the president of the United States of America," says head of U.S. Office of Government Ethics
Eisen was referring to Trump violating the Constitution's Emoluments Clause, which states that no person holding federal office can receive a fee or profit from a foreign government or entity (so foreign delegations staying at Trump hotels). Trump's lawyer said that, to avoid this, Trump's hotels would donate any profits from foreign governments to the U.S. Treasury. But that practice wouldn't necessarily eliminate this concern. ("As soon as he receives the payment, he will have benefited, even if he later decides to give it away," Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the University of California, Irvine School of Law told the New York Times.) On "Today" this morning, Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway defended the president-elect's ethics moves. "He has agreed to step away from everything associated with the Trump Organization," she said. "Why always the presumptive negativity when it comes to Mr. Trump?" But according to these ethics experts, the best -- if not only -- way for Trump to eliminate any conflicts of interest or potential violations of the Emoluments Clause is to sell off his business and put the proceeds in a blind trust. "I don't think divestiture is too high a price to pay to be the president of the United States of America," said Shaub, the director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics.Read More...
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