Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Donald Trump's Business Exit Plan (VIDEO)

The full press conference is at the video.

And at Bloomberg, "Trump to Step Down From Business but Won't Divest Ownership":

President-elect Donald Trump will leave his positions at the various companies of the Trump Organization, but he will not divest his ownership, raising questions about whether he has adequately addressed conflict-of-interest concerns.

“I could actually run my business and run government at the same time,” Trump said at a press conference Wednesday, adding that he recently turned down an offer of $2 billion to do a deal in Dubai. “I don’t like the way that looks, but I would be able to do that if I wanted to.”

Trump’s businesses, which include more than 500 companies with $3.6 billion in assets and ties to more than 20 countries, will be placed into a trust. The trust will be overseen by an independent ethics officer and managed by Trump’s sons Eric and Don Jr., and chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg, who will make decisions without consulting the president. The Trump Organization will terminate all pending partnerships, and won’t enter into new international business arrangements, such as licensing deals for new hotels, while Trump remains in the White House.

“That doesn’t solve any of the problems,” said Richard Painter, who served as a top White House ethics lawyer to President George W. Bush and is now a professor at the University of Minnesota Law School. “If he owns it, he has conflicts of interest.”

Existing Trump businesses, which include hotels and golf courses, will continue to operate and enter into new agreements, such as hosting weddings, parties and other events. Those will be reviewed by the ethics officer to ensure they are conducted at arms’ length. Trump’s debts will be paid down, according to their schedules. The company will voluntarily donate hotel profits received from foreign governments to the U.S. Treasury, said Sheri Dillon, his attorney.

“President-elect Trump should not be expected to destroy the company that he built,” Dillon said.

Under the law, the Office and Government Ethics may require executive branch officials to divest assets that could pose conflicts of interest. The president himself is exempt, but the ethics office “has for more than three decades asserted authority to make nonbinding recommendations regarding a president’s conflicts of interest,” OGE head Walter Shaub said in a December letter to lawmakers.

Trump’s legal team believes he isn’t in violation of his contract at the federal General Services Administration-owned building where he operates his Trump International Hotel in Washington. Although a provision in the lease appears to prohibit elected officials from benefiting from the arrangement, it is designed to prevent sitting officials from crafting sweetheart deals, the attorney said. Trump minted the deal as a private citizen.

His lawyers similarly believe that the emoluments clause of the Constitution, which prohibits gifts from foreign governments and heads of state, doesn’t apply to fair value exchanges between businesses...
Well, actually, I thought Trump's attorney, Sherri Dillon, gave a fantastic presentation. I especially loved the bit about how Donald Trump's business empire is "not dissimilar to the fortunes of Nelson Rockefeller when he became Vice President, but at that time no one was so concerned."

The Rockefeller family fortune was worth well over a billion dollars in 1974, which would probably be worth more than twice that amount in today's dollars. Rockefeller in fact had to testify before Congress at the time, to clarify the avoidance of conflict of interest. But I think Dillon's main point is correct: No one recalls the charges of potential conflicts against Rockefeller. This was right after Watergate. The big deal was just getting a new administration in place. And frankly, as bad as things were back then, I doubt left-wing progressives were as unhinged as they are today. We're in a new era, big time.

But continue reading.