Tue | Oct 24, 2017

Trump says he is leaving businesses to avoid conflicts

Published:Thursday | December 1, 2016 | 12:00 AM
President-elect Donald Trump

President-elect Donald Trump said yesterday that he is leaving his business empire to focus on being the nation's 45th president, declaring that he can successfully avoid conflicts of interest between governing and profiting in the private sector.

"I will be leaving my great business in total in order to fully focus on running the country, in order to make America great again," he tweeted in a series of missives sent before dawn. "While I am not mandated to do this under the law, I feel it is visually important, as president, to in no way have a conflict of interest with my various businesses."

Trump did not provide any details about how he planned to separate from his businesses, though he said legal documents were being prepared. He has previously said that he would leave his business operations to his three eldest children Donald Jr, Eric and Ivanka.

Trump's senior adviser, Kellyanne Conway, said on Wednesday the three are expected to "increase their responsibilities" in the Trump Organisation.

Ethics experts have pushed for Trump to fully exit the ownership of his businesses using a blind trust or equivalent arrangement.

"Otherwise, he will have a personal financial interest in his businesses that will sometimes conflict with the public interest and constantly raise questions," Norman Eisen, President Barack Obama's chief ethics lawyer, and Richard Painter, who held the same post for President George W. Bush, said in a joint statement on Wednesday.

Trump was also moving forward with his Cabinet selections, choosing former Goldman Sachs executive Steven Mnuchin as Treasury secretary and billionaire investor Wilbur Ross for Commerce secretary.

Mnuchin, 53, led Trump's finance operations during the presidential campaign. But he has no government experience, which could prove a political hurdle. If confirmed by the Senate, Mnuchin would play a central role in shaping Trump's tax policies and infrastructure plans. He would also lead an agency tasked with implementing international economic sanctions.

Arriving at the Trump Tower on Wednesday, Mnuchin said the administration planned "the most significant middle-income tax cut since Reagan." He also called for lowering corporate taxes to encourage companies to stay in the United States.

Trump was accompanying his decision to line his Cabinet with financial industry insiders with an announcement that the air conditioning giant Carrier Corp planned to keep nearly 1,000 jobs in Indiana instead of moving them to Mexico. Trump and Vice-president-elect Mike Pence, the outgoing Indiana governor, have planned an event with Carrier officials for Thursday to announce the plan.