Trump must end con­flicts

The Times-Tribune - - World -

Soon af­ter the United States first opened for busi­ness, an ar­ray of Euro­pean monar­chies pre­dicted the new and novel repub­lic’s rapid demise and worked dili­gently to achieve it. That’s why the Founders in­cluded Ar­ti­cle I, Sec­tion 9 in the Con­sti­tu­tion. The Emol­u­ments Clause pre­cludes any of­fice­holder from ac­cept­ing any­thing from any­one with­out the spe­cific con­sent of Congress.

At­tempts to in­flu­ence the gov­ern­ment are as great or greater today than they were in 1789. Yet Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald J. Trump has de­clined to take sound steps that his pre­de­ces­sors have taken to avoid such con­flicts.

Nor­man L. Eisen, who was ethics coun­sel for Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush; Richard W. Painter, who held the same post in the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion; and Lau­rence H. Tribe, a renowned pro­fes­sor of con­sti­tu­tional law at Har­vard Univer­sity, have pro­duced a pa­per de­tail­ing why Mr. Trump must fol­low his pre­de­ces­sors’ ex­am­ple.

Some of Mr. Trump’s im­pend­ing con­flicts are ob­vi­ous. His Trump In­ter­na­tional Ho­tel in Wash­ing­ton op­er­ates un­der a lease with the Gen­eral Ser­vices Ad­min­is­tra­tion. As pres­i­dent, he would be the land­lord and the ten­ant.

At least 10 la­bor prac­tice cases are pend­ing against Trump in­ter­ests at the Na­tional La­bor Relations Board, where Mr. Trump likely would fill two va­can­cies.

The list goes on. But as the schol­ars note, the in­tent of the Emol­u­ments Clause is to head off case-by-case pars­ing of con­flicts. It means to pre­vent such con­flicts rather than to re­solve them af­ter the fact.

Mr. Trump should agree to a blind trust to avoid a col­li­sion with the Con­sti­tu­tion.

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