We’ve all heard the excuses about why President Elect Trump can not be expected to fully resolve his conflict of interest issues including:
- Ethics and conflicts of interest laws don’t apply to the President
- Trump’s businesses are too VAST
- Trump shouldn’t have to give up everything to be President – it’s just not fair. Besides voters knew Trump owned these businesses.
Here’s the reality –
- The US Constitution has a conflict of interest clause, the Emoluments Clause, that does apply to the President. As Norm Eisen, Richard Painter and others have explained, Trump will likely be in violation on day 1 if he insists on keeping his business.
- Trump’s business while complex due to its legal structure is not really that vast.
- While voters knew about Trump’s business, it is reasonable to assume that there was an expectation(at least by some) that Trump would do what is necessary to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest. Just like every other President in recent history.
Beyond all of this, being a public servant routinely requires people to give up their businesses. For example, Obama’s car czar, Steve Rattner, had to sell out of the private equity business he built in order to help guide GM and Chrysler away from the brink of disaster. Giving up a business is not being asked to give up everything.
Members of our Armed Forces, law enforcement, intelligence agencies and others who put themselves in harms way are asked to give up everything. They give up being with their families for long periods of time, their safety and potentially their lives to serve the American people.
Donald Trump is not being asked to give up everything – far from it. He’s simply being asked to put the American people ahead of his self interests (something he should have thought about before deciding to run). If he can’t do that, then Trump is not fit to be President.
Note: this post was inspired by a Morning Joe segment that aired 1/3/17 and the discussions by Steve Rattner and Kasie Hunt.