Trump says he’s leav­ing busi­nesses to avoid con­flicts

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - MARKET PLACE - By Julie Pace and Lau­rie Kellman

WASHINGTON >> Pres­i­den­t­elect Don­ald Trump said Wednesday he’s leav­ing his business em­pire to fo­cus on be­ing the na­tion’s 45th pres­i­dent, declar­ing he can suc­cess­fully avoid con­flicts of in­ter­est be­tween gov­ern­ing and prof­it­ing in the pri­vate sec­tor.

“I will be leav­ing my great business in to­tal in or­der to fully fo­cus on run­ning the coun­try in or­der to make Amer­ica great again,” he tweeted in a se­ries of mis­sives sent be­fore dawn. “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 did not pro­vide any de­tails about how he planned to sep­a­rate from his busi­nesses, though he said le­gal doc­u­ments were be­ing pre­pared. He has pre­vi­ously said that he’d leave his business op­er­a­tions to his three el­dest chil­dren — Don­ald Jr., Eric and Ivanka.

Trump se­nior ad­viser Kellyanne Con­way said Wednesday the three are ex­pected to “in­crease their re­spon­si­bil­i­ties” in the Trump Or­ga­ni­za­tion. Asked if the tweets in which the pres­i­dent-elect an­nounced the plans to leave his business, Con­way replied, “It ap­pears that way.”

Ethics ex­perts have pushed for Trump to fully exit the own­er­ship of his busi­nesses us­ing a blind trust or equiv­a­lent ar­range­ment.

“Other­wise he will have a per­sonal fi­nan­cial in­ter­est in his busi­nesses that will some­times con­flict with the pub­lic in­ter­est and con­stantly raise ques­tions,” Nor­man Eisen, Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s chief ethics lawyer, and Richard Painter, who held the same post for Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush, said in a joint state­ment Wednesday.

Trump was also mov­ing for­ward with his Cab­i­net se­lec­tions, choos­ing for­mer Gold­man Sachs ex­ec­u­tive Steven Mnuchin as Trea­sury sec­re­tary and bil­lion­aire in­vestor Wil­bur Ross for Com­merce sec­re­tary.

Mnuchin, 53, led Trump’s fi­nance op­er­a­tions dur­ing the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign. But he has no gov­ern­ment ex­pe­ri­ence, which could prove a po­lit­i­cal hur­dle. If con­firmed by the Se­nate, Mnuchin would play a cen­tral role in shap­ing Trump’s tax poli­cies and in­fra­struc­ture plans. He would also lead an agency tasked with im­ple­ment­ing international eco­nomic sanc­tions.

Ar­riv­ing at Trump Tower Wednesday, Mnuchin said the ad­min­is­tra­tion planned “the most sig­nif­i­cant mid­dle in­come tax cut since Rea­gan.” He also called for low­er­ing cor­po­rate taxes to en­cour­age com­pa­nies to stay in the United States.

Trump was ac­com­pa­ny­ing his de­ci­sion to line his Cab­i­net with fi­nan­cial in­dus­try in­sid­ers with an an­nounce­ment that the air con­di­tion­ing gi­ant Car­rier Corp. planned to keep nearly 1,000 jobs in In­di­ana in­stead of mov­ing them to Mex­ico. Trump and Vice Pres­i­dent-elect Mike Pence, the out­go­ing In­di­ana gov­er­nor, planned an event with Car­rier of­fi­cials Thurs­day to an­nounce the plan.

De­tails of the agree­ment were un­clear. Trump spent much of his cam­paign pledg­ing to keep com­pa­nies like Car­rier from mov­ing jobs over­seas.

Na­tion­ally, man­u­fac­tur­ers shed 10,000 jobs in Novem­ber, ac­cord­ing to a re­port re­leased Wednesday by pay­roll ser­vices provider ADP. U.S. man­u­fac­tur­ing firms have strug­gled in the past year as a stronger dol­lar has cut into ex­ports and U.S. busi­nesses have spent less on ma­chin­ery and other equip­ment. They have cut 53,000 jobs in the last 12 months.

Trump’s sprawl­ing business em­pire is un­prece­dented for a modern sit­ting pres­i­dent, as is the com­plex­ity and opaque­ness of his fi­nan­cial hold­ings. He re­fused to re­lease his taxes dur­ing the cam­paign, cit­ing an on­go­ing au­dit, and will be un­der no le­gal obli­ga­tion to do so in the White House.

Trump owns golf clubs, of­fice tow­ers and other prop­er­ties in sev­eral coun­tries. He holds own­er­ship stakes in more than 500 com­pa­nies. He has struck li­cens­ing deals for use of his name on ho­tels and other build­ings around the world and has been land­ing new business in the Mid­dle East, In­dia and South Amer­ica.

Reince Priebus, Trump’s in­com­ing White House chief of staff, was vague Wednesday in de­scrib­ing how the pres­i­dent-elect planned to sep­a­rate him­self from his busi­nesses, say­ing “that’ll all be worked out.”

Priebus told MSNBC’s “Morn­ing Joe,” that Trump has “got the best peo­ple in Amer­ica work­ing on it.” Priebus de­murred when asked if Trump planned to put his busi­nesses in a blind trust — as pres­i­dents have tra­di­tion­ally done — or leave them in his chil­dren’s hands.

“I’m not ready to re­veal that re­ally,” Priebus said.

Priebus added that Trump’s business acu­men and the many in­ter­ests he has as a re­sult of it are “noth­ing to be ashamed about.” He said the coun­try hasn’t seen a pres­i­dent with such business hold­ings be­fore and the rules and reg­u­la­tions “don’t con­tem­plate this sce­nario.”


Steven Mnuchin, Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump’s nom­i­nee for Trea­sury Sec­re­tary, talks with re­porters in the lobby of Trump Tower, Wednesday, in New York.

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