Warren, Dems Push Bill to Force Trump to Shed Conflicts of Interest
Sen. Elizabeth Warren and several Democrats are pushing forward a bill that will force President-elect Donald Trump to fix his conflicts of interest not long after taking office.
The Hill reports:
The Massachusetts Democrat — backed by nearly 30 House and Senate Democrats — will introduce legislation Monday that would require Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence to divest any financial assets that pose a conflict of interest and place the money into a blind trust.
“The American people deserve to know that the President of the United States is working to do what’s best for the country — not using his office to do what’s best for himself and his businesses,” Warren said.
The requirement also applies to their spouses and any dependent children.
The legislation would make it the “sense of Congress” that any violation by Trump of conflict of interest or ethics rules applying to executive branch employees would be a “high crime or misdemeanor.”
Warren’s legislation would also block presidential appointees from participating in matters that are directly tied to the president-elect’s or incoming first lady Melania Trump’s financial interests or business that they control.
Democrats warn if Trump doesn’t sell off assets that could pose a conflict of interest he could be at risk of violating the Constitution’s emoluments clause, which blocks the president from accepting “any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state” without congressional consent.
Democrats have pressed Trump to be more transparent about his finances for months, including a push during the White House race for him to release his tax returns.
They argue Trump must hand over more information so Americans can know if he is making a decision because it is best for the country or for his own financial interest.
“With Inauguration Day fast approaching, the American people are still waiting to hear what steps President-elect Trump will take to guard against conflicts of interest and corruption in his Administration,” said Sen. Dick Durbin (Ill.), the Senate’s No. 2 Democrat.
Warren’s legislation also includes Sen. Ron Wyden’s (D-Ore.) requirement for the president and presidential nominees of major parties to hand over their tax documents.
Democrats face an uphill battle to clear the bill through a GOP-controlled Congress, where leadership has stressed since the election that they are focused on working with Trump.
Trump has said he would step back from the Trump Organization and leave the company to his adult children.
He was scheduled to announce last month how he would untangle himself from his business interests, but Trump aide Kellyanne Conway said the press conference would be delayed because of “how convoluted and complex many of these business holdings are.”
Trump told reporters late last month that his business connections are “not a big deal. ”
“You people are making that a big deal, the business, because look, No. 1, when I won, they all knew I had a big business all over the place,” the president-elect said.
Trump is expected to hold a press conference this week — possibly as soon as Wednesday.
Photo credit: MSNBC / Screenshot.