Trump’s conflict of interest much greater than Clinton Foundation
Where are the cries of “conflict of interest” from those who wanted the Clinton Foundation investigated?
Donald Trump ran for president promising to “drain the swamp” of corruption and self-dealing that he argued had taken root in Washington, DC. But not only has he immediately moved to pack his transition team with lobbyists and millionaires, his personal financial situation also poses a series of massive conflicts of interest and lays the groundwork for financial self-dealing on an essentially unprecedented level.
What’s more, Trump’s past behavior gives us a clue as to how he might take advantage of this opportunity. Federal Election Commission disclosures reveal that Trump’s campaign spent enormous quantities of its donors’ money on his businesses. Trump’s charitable foundation appears to have routinely spent money for Trump’s personal benefit in violation of the rules…
Trump’s plan…is simply to hand over management of the Trump Organization network of businesses to a council composed of his children and some other executives. He has chosen to call this council a “blind trust,” and some media outlets have unaccountably agreed to go along with it. But even in the age of Trump, words have meaning, and asking your kids to manage your affairs for you is not what a blind trust is.
But beyond that, a blind trust arrangement is fundamentally inappropriate for the nature of Trump’s assets. Recent wealthy presidents — the Bushes, John Kennedy, Franklin Roosevelt — have been essentially rich kids who inherited dynastic fortunes that they invested passively. Trump is also a rich kid who inherited a dynastic fortune. And had he invested it passively, he would be even richer today than he is now. But he chose instead to take his money and build a series of companies — mostly companies bearing his name — with it.
The way to deconflict this would be to set up a mechanism to sell the Trump Organization (perhaps to a wealthy Trump supporter to whom the president-elect is already indebted, like Peter Thiel) and then plow the cash proceeds into a new blind trust.
As long as the company is intact and under the control of Trump’s children and direct heirs, the conflict of interest has not been even slightly mitigated. Further exacerbating the problem is the well-known fact that Trump’s three oldest children — and Ivanka’s husband, Jared Kushner — are some of his closest political advisers. The council of kids running the Trump Organization, for example, have also been appointed to the council running the Trump transition project. There will be perfect and intimate coordination between Trump’s policymaking and Trump’s business life.