Despite the fact that president-elect Donald Trump has yet to take the White House, there has already been a fair amount of controversy surrounding the transition. One of the most worrisome aspects of Trump’s ascension to the highest office of the United States is whether or not he could be trusted to act in the best interests of the nation and not the best interests of himself. As someone with what many would describe as an ’empire’, his financial and business dealings must be made public in order to guarantee that such conflicts of interest are not an issue.
Democrats within the Senate may have discovered a way to force Trump to not only disclose every conflict of interest he might have, but also to divest those conflicts into something else that would harbor no motivation for him to play favorites. Senator Elizabeth Warren is heading the charge, and she has actually penned a bill along with several other senators regarding a clause within the Constitution of the United States. The Emoluments Clause is quite thorough, and it was designed specifically to prevent conflicts of interest from affecting the presidency. Senate Democrats announced their intentions to pass the bill on the same day that Trump canceled a press conference on the very subject.
The fact that Trump canceled his press conference, during which he was supposed to disclose how he had separated his personal dealings from his new responsibilities as President of the United States, points to the fact that he won’t be a president of transparency. That is why this new bill is being championed across the Senate. It would force Trump and everyone close to him to completely reduce their conflicts of interest to zero.
The Emoluments Clause has three primary directives that must be followed by the President of the United States. The first directive states that the president, vice president, and everyone related to them, including wives and minor children, can not own financial interests that would create a conflict of interest. All such properties must be sold and the proceeds must be placed into a blind trust. A third party must oversee the management of the trust, including the sale of assets.
The second directive states that failure on the part of the president to comply with the first directive constitutes a misdemeanor or high crime which falls under the impeachment clause within the Constitution, which means that if Trump does not completely divulge and divest his conflicts of interest, he may be susceptible to impeachment.
The third and last directive merely states that appointees made by the president are not allowed to be involved with any of the president’s financial dealings, including those of his spouse. This is meant to stop the president from divesting his interests to only have them controlled by someone working for him.
When the Senate returns from its break in January, the Democrats plan to introduce the bill. The Democrats have been highly critical of Trump in the recent weeks, especially in light of the lack of transparency he is providing for his own financial dealings. Citizens of the United States deserve to understand what the president is doing, and that his actions are meant to help everyone, not only himself. The fact that placing assets in a blind trust has been standard for every other president seems to be lost on Trump. This new bill from the Democrats shows that Trump will be expected to operate in the same way as every president that has come before him. It is only unfortunate that Senate Republicans seem to have no interest in limiting Trump whatsoever.