Schultz won't say if he will sell all Starbucks shares if he becomes president

Howard Schultz, the former Starbucks CEO who is mulling an independent presidential bid, declined to promise to sell all of his Starbucks shares if he is elected in 2020.

“I think we’re getting way premature,” he said Tuesday when asked the question at a CNN town hall.

“I think the best way to say that is that I will do nothing whatsoever to have any conflict of interest between my investments overall, or my interest in the company that I love, because I will put the role and responsibility and the accountability for results first if I run for president and I’m fortunate enough to win, and that is a promise I make to the American people.” 

Schultz said he was not “evading the question,” suggesting he could possibly put his shares in a blind trust should he enter the White House.

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Scrutiny over politicians’ business ties skyrocketed after President TrumpDonald John TrumpRosenstein expected to leave DOJ next month: reports Allies wary of Shanahan's assurances with looming presence of Trump States file lawsuit seeking to block Trump's national emergency declaration MORE refused to put ties to his personal business in a blind trust, opting to simply put his adult sons Donald Trump Jr.Donald (Don) John TrumpHouse chairman: Trump lawyers may have given false info about Cohen payments Sarah Sanders says she was interviewed by Mueller's office Trump dismisses Ann Coulter after criticism: 'I hardly know her' MORE and Eric TrumpEric Frederick TrumpMandatory E-Verify: The other border wall Trump Organization drops plans to open new hotels amid scrutiny: report Schultz won't say if he will sell all Starbucks shares if he becomes president MORE in charge of the Trump Organization.

That decision has sparked a litany of lawsuits claiming President Trump was violating the emoluments clause, which prohibits the president from personally profiting from the office of president. 

In an attempt to contrast himself from Trump, Schultz also vowed to release his tax returns if he decides to run for president and repeatedly hit the president over his policies and character.

However, Schultz ignited controversy among Democrats who fear that his candidacy could divide the anti-Trump vote and hand Trump a second term in the White House.