President-Elect Donald Trump’s massive conflicts of interest have generated considerable attention from critics and commentators. The future President of the United States has brought his children to state meetings, used a congratulatory phone call from the president of Argentina to push forward a business project in her country and even owns stocks in the company trying to build a pipeline through Standing Rock. Many are wondering how he can ethically assume the presidency. A senator from Maryland has a potential solution for him.
Ben Cardin (D), is introducing a bill to require President-Elect Trump to sell off his global businesses before January 20. He is citing the “emoluments clause” of the Constitution, which prohibits the president from receiving payments from foreign parties. One concern is Mr. Trump’s relationship with Deutsche Bank, which has lent him substantial sums to fuel his real estate speculations. The bank is currently being fined $5 billion for its role in the 2008 financial crisis and mortgage crash. Democrats are worried that a President Trump would lower the fines in exchange for the bank forgiving his personal and business debts.
Legislators also worry about the President-Elect’s global business holdings. As the developments in Argentina show, President Trump could easily use his influence to promote his private business needs. He also owns a luxury hotel in Washington, D.C., and many are worried that foreign diplomats will see staying in the President’s own hotel as the cost of doing diplomatic business.
Voters are making their voices head in new ways this election cycle. The House Oversight Committee has received so many phone calls asking them to investigate Mr. Trump’s business holdings that they are no longer answering calls. Electors, who will convene in December to formally vote Mr. Trump into the office, are being deluged with calls and emails asking them to consider his conflicts of interest. Republican commentators are already claiming it would be unfair to ask Mr. Trump and his family to give up the assets they have worked hard to build over the past few decades. With a Republican House, Republican Senate, Republican White House and Republican propaganda machine, the famed checks and balances on abuses of power may not have much weight in the next four years.