President-Elect Donald Trump has made it absolutely clear that he will not be putting his business in a blind trust, and is instead simply handing control over to his children. For the past 40 years, every president has made absolutely sure that they are serving the American people and not themselves by using a blind trust. Just like he didn’t release his tax returns, Trump is instead choosing to retain ownership of the multi-billion dollar international Trump Organisation, leaving his children to manage the company while he is in the Oval Office.
The first problem is that his children are already on his transition team. These dual-roles for his family are extremely concerning. There is no way to ensure that the Trump administration doesn’t put the interests of the Trump Organisation before the country. Ivanka, Donald Jr and Eric Trump are all serving on the transition team, allowing them to influence who is chosen for the company, and who will best serve the interests of their own company.
The second problem is that Ivanka Trump’s presence at a meeting with the Prime Minister of Japan. For any meeting between heads of states, all parties should have security clearance. Nobody should be there if they don’t need to be there, especially if it’s their job to spread hotels across the globe. You definitely can’t have financial interests mixing with the interests of the country.
The third and maybe biggest problem is that Trump is pitching his Washington DC hotel to at least 100 foreign diplomats as President-Elect. This hotel is financed entirely out of the Trump family’s pocket. Staying at this hotel is now an easy way to bribe Trump, for it is his family that will profit from it. Every diplomat, every dignitary, and every CEO who stays in this hotel is paying the Trump family. Trump’s no idiot. The hotel is very close to the White House. If any foreign diplomat stays at the Trump hotel, then tells Trump at their meeting that they stayed there, Trump will know he profited from this. It’s a legal bribe.
One Asian diplomat who attended said “Why wouldn’t I stay at his hotel blocks from the White House, so I can tell the new president, ‘I love your new hotel!’ Isn’t it rude to come to his city and say, ‘I am staying at your competitor?’ ”. They’re not hiding that they already plan to use this to their own advantage.
Trump and his family is so financially invested in his hotel chain, there’s no way it won’t affect his decisions. Any way his business is hurt, hurts him and his family. Any way his business is helped, it helps him and his family. As president, Donald Trump would have so much incentive to ignore advice or make decisions only because it helps his business dealings.
As Trevor Potter writes in the Washington Post,
Trump has said he intends to penalize China for its trade policies. That could prompt the Bank of China, owned by the Chinese government, to threaten to pull its loans that are financing Trump buildings. If so, would the president back down? Likewise, Trump knows that Deutsche Bank financing is important to his business. The bank, even before Trump takes office, is reported to be in trouble. What happens if the Treasury Department recommends that the U.S. government decline to prop it up? A major European bank failure could have an adverse impact on Trump’s real estate investments across the board. If he decides to rescue Deutsche Bank (even if that is the “right” policy decision), it will appear as if he did so to benefit his business interests.
The only way for Trump to truly prove he is not in this only for himself is to either create an actual blind trust, or sell the company.