Trump vows to leave his busi­ness

Cecil Whig - - & - OBIT­U­ARY POL­ICY By JIM PUZ­ZANGHERA AND DON LEE

Los An­ge­les Times

— Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump tweeted Wed­nes­day morn­ing that he would “leave” his busi­ness op­er­a­tions “in to­tal to fully fo­cus on run­ning the coun­try.”

Trump’s vast in­ter­ests in real es­tate and other ven­tures have raised un­prece­dented con­cerns about the po­ten­tial for con­flict of in­ter­est, both at home and in­ter­na­tion­ally.

In one of a se­ries of tweets, Trump said he would be “leav­ing my great busi­ness in to­tal.”

“Le­gal doc­u­ments are be­ing crafted which take me com­pletely out of busi­ness op­er­a­tions. The Pres­i­dency is a far more im­por­tant task!” he said.

How­ever, Trump made no men­tion that he would be giv­ing up own­er­ship of the Trump Or­ga­ni­za­tion, which in­cludes ho­tels, golf re­sorts and other prop­er­ties and many li­cens­ing deals that span the globe.

Nei­ther did he spec­ify whether his sep­a­ra­tion from his busi­nesses would be per­ma­nent.

WASH­ING­TON

To avoid con­flicts or the per­cep­tion that his pres­i­dency would ben­e­fit his fi­nan­cial em­pire, govern­ment ethics lawyers and watch­dog groups have urged him to sell off his busi­nesses and put the as­sets in a blind trust to be man­aged by an in­de­pen­dent third party.

Trump said last week that he has been turn­ing over op­er­a­tions of his busi­nesses to three of his chil­dren, who al­ready have se­nior po­si­tions at the Trump Or­ga­ni­za­tion.

But some crit­ics have said turn­ing over con­trol to his chil­dren may not be enough to al­le­vi­ate such con­cerns, since sev­eral of his adult chil­dren re­main ac­tive in plan­ning his tran­si­tion.

“What he does not seem to re­al­ize, or does not want to ad­mit, is that the con­flicts arise from his own­er­ship of the Trump Or­ga­ni­za­tion,” said Noah Book­binder, ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of the Cit­i­zens for Re­spon­si­bil­ity and Ethics in Wash­ing­ton, in re­act­ing to Trump’s an­nounce­ment Wed­nes­day. “He will con­tinue to know what his busi­ness in­ter­ests are and to ben­e­fit from them whether or not he is in­volved in the day-to-day man­age­ment, so the con­flicts re­main un­changed.”

Fed­eral con­flict-of-in­ter­est rules for govern­ment em­ploy­ees and mem­bers of Congress don’t ap­ply to the pres­i­dent.

Trump said in an in­ter­view with the New York Times last week that “the pres­i­dent can’t have a con­flict of in­ter­est ... In the­ory, I can be pres­i­dent of the United States and run my busi­ness 100 per­cent.”

He said then that it would be very hard to sell off his busi­nesses be­cause they are mostly real es­tate, but also noted that he would like “to try and for­mal­ize some­thing” in terms of an ar­range­ment that would dis­tance his busi­nesses from his work as pres­i­dent.

On Wed­nes­day, he tweeted that “While I am not man­dated to do this un­der the law, I feel it is vis­ually im­por­tant, as Pres­i­dent, to in no way have a con­flict of in­ter­est with my var­i­ous busi­nesses.”

Trump said he would de­tail the changes at a New York news con­fer­ence with his chil­dren on Dec. 15.

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