President-Elect Trump Announces Plan To Address Business Conflicts

Jan 11, 2017
Originally published on January 11, 2017 5:26 pm
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In his Q&A with reporters, Trump said he would nominate a Supreme Court justice two weeks after taking office and that he would seek to repeal and replace Obamacare shortly after the Senate confirms his choice for secretary of Health and Human Services.

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Trump said he would not release his tax documents. He spent much of the rest of his time explaining how he would distance himself from his business empire once he becomes president. He will continue to own the Trump Organization, but he'll turn over its management, hey says, to his two adult sons. The head of the Office of Government Ethics says that plan falls short of what's needed. NPR's Jackie Northam reports.

JACKIE NORTHAM, BYLINE: President-elect Trump has been under enormous pressure to separate himself from a business he spent decades building. He repeated several times during today's press conference that once he's president, he isn't bound by any conflicts of interest laws but said he would step back from his company anyway and hand the keys over to his children.

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DONALD TRUMP: Don and Eric are going to be running the company. They are going to be running it in a very professional manner. They're not going to discuss it with me. Again, I don't have to do this.

NORTHAM: Trump will resign from all positions overseeing hundreds of business interests, everything from resorts to golf courses. All pending deals will be terminated, and there will be no new foreign deals while Trump is president. He alluded that aspect was already underway.

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TRUMP: Was offered $2 billion to do a deal in Dubai - number of deals, and I turned it down.

NORTHAM: New domestic deals are still allowed, but they will have to be vetted by an ethics adviser, one which will be appointed by Trump. Walter Shaub, the head of the nonpartisan Office of Government Ethics, says the plan announced by Trump today doesn't meet the standards that many of his own Cabinet nominees are meeting or that every president in the past four decades has met. Shaub says Trump needs to divest himself from his business completely.

WALTER SHAUB: Stepping back from running his positions is meaningless from a conflicts of interest perspective. Nothing short of divestiture will resolve these conflicts.

NORTHAM: Sheri Dillon, a Trump lawyer, said selling all of Trump's assets would exacerbate possible conflicts of interest rather than eliminate them.

SHERI DILLON: The Trump brand is key to the value of the Trump Organization's assets. If President-elect Trump sold his brand, he would be entitled to royalties for the use of it.

NORTHAM: Dillon said selling the president-elect's assets without the Trump brand name would greatly diminish the value and create a fire sale. But ethics experts say as long as the Trump family is profiting from the Trump Organization, questions about conflicts of interest will persist. Jackie Northam, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.