Dem takes aim at Trump with bill to prevent conflicts of interest

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In a move targeting President-elect Donald Trump, a House Democrat has introduced legislation requiring presidents to eliminate potential conflicts of interest with their personal finances.

Rep. Katherine Clark’s (D-Mass.) bill would require the president and vice president to put their assets in a certified blind trust or inform the public and Office of Government Ethics when they make decisions affecting their financial interests. 

“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,” Clark said in a statement. 

{mosads}Past presidents have placed their assets in blind trusts, which are managed by independent trustees. Trump, meanwhile, has said he plans for his adult children to manage his business dealings once he takes office in January.

That’s raised questions about how Trump will be able to avoid potential conflicts of interest with his global business while serving in the White House.

His three adult children were influential advisers during the campaign and are all on the Trump’s presidential transition team.

Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, was photographed sitting in on her father’s meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday in Trump Tower. 

U.S. presidents and vice presidents are exempt from a law that bars executive branch employees from engaging in government activities in which they or their families have a financial stake. The law does not apply to members of Congress or federal judges, either. 

In the meantime, Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence will have to release annual financial disclosures throughout their terms.

The Wall Street Journal wrote in an editorial this week that Trump’s “best option” would be to liquidate his stake in his company. It warned that Trump would otherwise be questioned about his motives during debates over issues like tax reform and Wall Street regulation.

“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 editorial states. 

The editorial further noted that Trump’s rival in the presidential election, Hillary Clinton, had been attacked for ties to her family’s namesake charitable foundation while serving as 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,” it said.

Tags Donald Trump Hillary Clinton Mike Pence

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