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A serious national security threat

Donald Trump still hasn’t resolved the issues surrounding his massive conflicts of interest. Richard Painter, President George W. Bush’s chief White House ethics lawyer, recently argued in a New York Times op-ed that Trump’s conflicts of interest aren’t just ethically wrong, they pose a serious national security threat. The reality is that Trump and his business stand to profit from the presidency, an unprecedented move that has dangerous implications for our foreign policy. With business dealings in at least 20 countries around the globe, it’s impossible to know exactly where Trump’s interests lie – in bolstering his bank account, or in ensuring the safety and prosperity of our nation? Here’s what people are saying:

New York Times: Richard W. Painter: Trump’s Business Empire Isn’t Just an Ethical Disaster

One of Mr. Trump’s most lucrative initiatives has been the licensing of the Trump brand — and name. There are Trump-branded properties like towers and hotels in some 20 countries… This first presents an ethical problem: No president should allow his name to be put on commercial properties in return for payment. The presidency is not a branding opportunity. President Trump can’t do this unless he wants to create the impression that he is being paid off. But it also presents a global security risk. A building branded with the name of an American president — any president, but perhaps especially Mr. Trump — would be a tempting target for terrorists and other enemies of the United States…This is one of the most dangerous aspects of Mr. Trump’s conflict-of-interest problem.

New York Times: James B. Stewart: Trump’s Potential Conflicts Have a Precedent: Berlusconi’s Italy

But many more of Mr. Berlusconi’s businesses are domestic than Mr. Trump’s, with relatively few interests that might be influenced by foreign governments. “Trump’s business interests are primarily international,” Mr. Eisen said. “In that sense Trump is more dangerous than Berlusconi.” He cited what he called a “small but telling example,” the Trump International Hotel in Washington, where foreign delegations are rushing to book rooms in what seems a blatant effort to curry favor. “The founders’ wigs would have flipped off their heads if they’d seen what’s happening at the Trump hotel just a few blocks from the White House,” Mr. Eisen said.

Washington Post: Rosalind S. Helderman and Drew Harwell: Trump’s stock holdings may give him a personal stake in rules on banks and oil firms

President-elect Donald Trump has disclosed owning millions of dollars of stock in companies with business pending before the U.S. government and whose value could rise as a result of his policies. Trump’s stock holdings, which are separate from the more high-profile real estate and branding empire that he has said he will separate from in some fashion, represent another area rife with potential conflicts of interest that Trump has yet to address as he prepares to take office.

The Hill: Sylvan Lane: Warren calls for probe of Trump hotel conflicts of interest

Two Senate Democrats are calling on the federal agency leasing a government building to President-elect Donald Trump to investigate whether that arrangement could create conflicts of interest. Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Tom Carper (D-Del.) on Thursday wrote the head of the General Services Administration (GSA) about the recently opened Trump hotel in Washington’s Old Post Office building. The senators focused on two legal issues: a provision in the 2013 lease that blocks elected officials from being part of the agreement, and money Trump could make from foreign governments booking rooms and holding events.

Talking Points Memo: Allegra Kirkland: Ethics Experts Explain Just How Trump Can Address Huge Conflicts Of Interest

Perhaps seeking to quell a flood of reporting on potential conflicts of interest in a Donald Trump administration, the President-elect announced Wednesday that he would soon separate “in total” from the business conglomerate that bears his name. Yet in the series of tweets publicizing this upcoming move, Trump said only that he would remove himself from the Trump Organization’s “business operations,” leaving open the possibility that he would retain a financial stake in the company while in the White House. His advisors suggested that he still plans to hand management of the company over to his three adult children in what he refers to as “blind” trust that ethics experts argue defies the definition.

NPR: Staff: Trump’s Dispute With Las Vegas Hotel Employees Poses Potential Conflict

One potential conflict of interest for President-elect Donald Trump could involve his dispute with employees attempting to unionize at the Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas. The National Labor Relations Board has ruled against Trump, whose company has opposed unionization, but as president, Trump will have the power to appoint new members of the NLRB.

NPR: Staff: Journalist On Trump’s Potential Conflicts Of Interest: ‘They’re Everywhere’

Lipton has been investigating Trump’s business holdings in the U.S. and around the world. Referring to Trump’s potential conflicts, Lipton says, “They’re everywhere.” He notes that the president-elect already mixed his business interests with his job governing when he praised his own business partner during a telephone call with the president of Turkey. It was “a very odd circumstance,” Lipton says of Trump’s phone call. “We want a president to be simply thinking about what are the interests of the United States and having zero consideration for his or her financial interests in any conversations with leaders there.”

The Guardian: Sabrina Siddiqui: Will Donald Trump actually be able to avoid conflicts of interest?

Little is known about how exactly Trump plans to distance himself from his sprawling empire, which owns hotels and golf resorts and businesses including a winery and modeling agency, and whether his plans would truly be enough to avoid placing his private and public interests on a collision course….During the presidential race, Trump broke with a 40-year tradition among major-party candidates by refusing to release his tax returns. This left the public, and the media, without a clear portrait of his finances, business partners, payments and loans. Because Trump’s eponymous conglomerate is privately held, there is also no requirement that it disclose its assets. Absent financial transparency, the possibility of Trump using the office of the presidency to bolster his businesses could continue to exist, even with his children in charge.

Mother Jones: Russ Choma: Trump Has a Huge Foreign Bank Problem

With all his properties and deals in the United States and around the world, Donald Trump is heading to the White House burdened with multiple conflicts of interest. But the biggest ones may not be about what Trump owns, but rather what he owes…He and his companies have borrowed hundreds of millions of dollars. These are loans that potentially afford his lenders leverage over Trump. This creates the possibility that Trump may find himself in the position of choosing between US interests and his lenders’ interests.

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