Despite campaigning on a promise to fight against self-enrichment and draining the swamp, Trump and his family have already used the election to benefit his business interests. The reality is that Trump’s financial dealings pose an unprecedented number of conflicts of interest. Even if Trump hands his business over to his children, it still wouldn’t be a blind trust and the conflicts of interest would remain. It’s not a blind trust if you can see what you own, and so can everyone else. Donald Trump cannot be allowed to get away with using our nation’s highest office to line his own pockets. Here’s what people are saying:
NEW YORK TIMES // MATT FLEGENHEIMER, RACHEL ABRAMS, BARRY MEIER and HIROKO TABUCHI
When Donald J. Trump hosted a foreign leader for the first time as president-elect, the guest list included a curious entry: Mr. Trump’s daughter Ivanka, who looked on last month while he and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan chatted on a white couch high above Manhattan… The circumstances highlight the remarkable tangle awaiting the Trump family, its sprawling business empire and those who have interacted with the family at home and abroad — a web of complications that seems certain to persist even if Mr. Trump makes good on his promise to remove himself from his company’s business operations. Since his election, Mr. Trump has chafed at the suggestion that keeping his business in the family could create problems, despite several episodes during his transition that seemed to mix business and diplomacy.
NPR // MARILYN GEEWAX AND MARIA HOLLENHORST
Trying to understand the Trump Organization is a daunting task. President-elect Donald Trump has not released tax documents, so the best clues about his privately held business interests come from a financial disclosure form he released in May. The document covers scores of pages with small type, and suggests he is financially involved with hundreds of companies, including some that simply license his name… Trump himself noted that there are ethical concerns about his dealings.
NEW YORK MAGAZINE // JONATHAN CHAIT
There are many countries in the world that are governed by men who use their office to enrich themselves and their families. Before now, or at least for the last 200 years (since Andrew Jackson secretly profited off his own land grabs) the United States of America has not been a country like this. The modern American tradition has required political leaders to renounce any financial interest that might bias their decision. Donald Trump has abruptly demolished this tradition. And the Republican Party is happy to oblige.
WASHINGTON POST//ROSALIND S. HELDERMAN AND DREW HARWELL
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. Trump’s stock holdings, as of his most recent disclosure in May, included millions of dollars worth of shares in financial institutions such as Goldman Sachs and Wells Fargo, which have seen their stock prices rise with his promises to roll back regulations imposed after the 2008 financial crash.
NEW YORK TIMES // MICHAEL FORSYTHE
Potential conflicts of interest for Mr. Trump as president have been documented around the world, including in Scotland, India, Brazil, the Philippines, Argentina and Turkey. But perhaps nowhere are the stakes quite as high as in Taiwan, because it involves ties between the United States and China, the countries with the world’s biggest economies and most powerful militaries. “Even if the phone call had not happened, once these business dealings came to light, it would send a very confusing signal to Beijing,” said Marc Lanteigne, a senior research fellow at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs who focuses on Chinese security issues.
SALON // MATTHEW ROZSA
Republicans are trying to downplay President-elect Donald Trump’s potential conflicts of interest, even if they turn out to be illegal — and unconstitutional. As Politico reported on Monday, a litany of Republican leaders and political operatives are spinning concerns over potential conflicts-of-interest as overblown, partisan, and even anti-success, ignoring the legitimate legal issues that would exist if some of these stories prove to be factual. “This is a great test case between the pre-Trump and post-Trump worlds,” said former House Speaker Newt Gingrich to Politico. “In a pre-Trump world dominated by left-wing ideas, anyone successful is inherently dangerous and should be punished for trying to serve the country.”
MSNBC // STEVE BENEN
The list of Donald Trump’s conflict-of-interest controversies is painfully long, and there are all kinds of relevant questions that need answers. For example, when the president-elect met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, why in the world did the meeting include Ivanka Trump? The president-elect’s daughter, after all, will soon help oversee her father’s business empire, and to avoid improprieties, she’s supposed to have no official governmental role. So what explains her participation in the post-election meeting between Trump and Abe?
PROVIDENCE JOURNAL // EDITORIAL BOARD
President-elect Donald Trump is, in truth, not much of a real estate mogul. He just played one on TV. As Mr. Trump’s biographer Timothy L. O’Brien has noted, “The Trump Organization today has three main components: a licensing operation that attaches Trump’s name to other people’s buildings, as well as products like clothing and mattresses; a handful of golf courses and resorts; and certain domestic real estate and retail holdings.” In total, O’Brien reports, in addition to his licensing deals and several hotel partnerships, Trump owns 12 golf courses, two hotels, a commercial building, a resort, and some commercial and retail space. Trump’s business is highly profitable, yes, but not exactly “yuge,” to use one of the president-elect’s favorite words.