Tuesday, May 22, 2018
Politics

Trump says he's leaving businesses 'in total' to avoid conflicts of interest

President-elect Donald J. Trump tweeted Wednesday morning that he would soon leave his "great business in total" to focus on the presidency, a response to growing worries over the businessman-in-chief's conflicts of interest around the globe.

The surprise announcement marks a turn from Trump's months-long refusal to distance himself from his private business while holding public office.

But it remained unclear whether the new arrangement would include a full sale of Trump's stake or, as he has offered before, a ceding of company management to his children, which ethics advisors have said would not resolve worries that the business could still influence his decisions in the Oval Office.

"I will be holding a major news conference in New York City with my children on December 15 to discuss the fact that 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!" Trump tweeted.

"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. Hence, legal documents are being crafted which take me completely out of business operations. The Presidency is a far more important task!"

Most modern presidents have agreed to sell or sequester their assets in a "blind trust," led by an independent manager with supreme control, in order to keep past business deals, investments and relationships from influencing their White House term.

Trump previously said that he'd leave his business operations to his three eldest children — Donald Jr., Eric and Ivanka.

Trump senior adviser Kellyanne Conway said Wednesday the three are expected to "increase their responsibilities" in the organization.

Asked if the tweets indicated plans to move the businesses to the children, Trump senior adviser Kellyanne Conway said Wednesday, "it appears that way."

Reince Priebus, Trump's incoming White House chief of staff, was vague Wednesday in describing how the president-elect planned to separate himself from his businesses, saying "that'll all be worked out."

Priebus told MSNBC that Trump has "got the best people in America working on it." Priebus demurred when asked if Trump planned to put his businesses in a blind trust — as presidents have traditionally done — or leave them in his children's hands.

"I'm not ready to reveal that really," Priebus said.

Priebus added that Trump's business acumen and the many interests he has as a result of it are "nothing to be ashamed about." He said the country hasn't seen a president with such business holdings before and the rules and regulations "don't contemplate this scenario."

Richard Painter, chief White House ethics lawyer under President George W. Bush, said the announcement did not appear to offer enough of a division to keep entanglement worries at bay.

"That's business operations, not ownership. The problem is, we need to resolve the conflicts of interest that arise from his ownership. And we're hearing nothing about how that's getting resolved," Painter said.

"Even if he does not operate the businesses, you're going to have lots of people working for the business running around the world trying to cut deals," Painter added. "And it's critical that none of those people discuss U.S. business in a way that could be interpreted, or misinterpreted, of offering quid pro quo ... or soliciting a bribe on the part of the president."

Trump's sprawling business empire is unprecedented for a modern sitting president, as is the complexity and opaqueness of his financial holdings. He refused to release his taxes during the campaign, citing an ongoing audit, and will be under no legal obligation to do so in the White House.

Trump owns golf clubs, office towers and other properties in several countries. He holds ownership stakes in more than 500 companies. He has struck licensing deals for use of his name on hotels and other buildings around the world and has been landing new business in the Middle East, India and South America.

Eric Trump demurred Wednesday when asked for details on how his father would separate himself from his businesses, saying: "You'll hear soon enough."

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Comments
Romano: A pathetic legacy for Florida’s all-or-nothing Democrats

Romano: A pathetic legacy for Florida’s all-or-nothing Democrats

Explain this to me: In the world of partisan politics, how is being an independent thinker a bad thing? When it comes to general elections, we seem to like rogues and mavericks. We want outsiders and swamp scrubbers. Folks appreciate a good finger-...
Published: 05/22/18
‘World’s most expensive Witch Hunt’: Trump lashes out at New York Times, Democrats

‘World’s most expensive Witch Hunt’: Trump lashes out at New York Times, Democrats

WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump lashed out Sunday at "the World’s most expensive Witch Hunt," trashing a new report in the New York Times that said an emissary representing the governments of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates offered help...
Published: 05/20/18
Obama’s education secretary: Let’s boycott school until gun laws change

Obama’s education secretary: Let’s boycott school until gun laws change

Former Education Secretary Arne Duncan pushed a radical idea on Twitter: Parents should pull their children out of school until elected officials pass stricter gun control laws.His tweet came hours after a shooting rampage at a Houston-area high scho...
Published: 05/20/18
China offers to buy more US products to reduce trade imbalance

China offers to buy more US products to reduce trade imbalance

WASHINGTON - China offered to boost its annual purchases of U.S. products by "at least $200 billion" Friday as two days of talks aimed at averting an open breach between the two countries ended in Washington, a top White House adviser said.Larry Kudl...
Published: 05/19/18
Hillsborough candidate falsified contract for fund-raising gospel concert, lawsuit says

Hillsborough candidate falsified contract for fund-raising gospel concert, lawsuit says

TAMPA — A concert organizer is accusing Hillsborough County Commission candidate Elvis Piggott of falsifying a contract and prompting the headline act to pull out of a gospel show.In a lawsuit filed in Hillsborough Circuit Court, Corey Curry claims h...
Published: 05/18/18
Gina Haspel confirmed as CIA chief despite scrutiny of her role in interrogation program

Gina Haspel confirmed as CIA chief despite scrutiny of her role in interrogation program

WASHINGTON - The Senate voted Thursday to confirm Gina Haspel as the next CIA director after several Democrats were persuaded to support her despite lingering concerns about her role in the brutal interrogation of suspected terrorists captured after ...
Published: 05/17/18
GOP pushes for speedy confirmation vote for CIA nominee

GOP pushes for speedy confirmation vote for CIA nominee

WASHINGTON — Republicans are pushing for a speedy confirmation vote as early as Thursday after the Senate intelligence committee endorsed President Donald Trump’s CIA nominee Gina Haspel to lead the spy agency. But opponents concerned about Haspel’s ...
Published: 05/16/18
Gina Haspel, Trump’s pick to lead CIA, wins support of Senate Intelligence Committee

Gina Haspel, Trump’s pick to lead CIA, wins support of Senate Intelligence Committee

WASHINGTON - The Senate Intelligence Committee moved Wednesday to recommend Gina Haspel for CIA director, setting up a floor vote that her opponents say will signal to the world whether the United States condemns or condones torture.The committee vot...
Published: 05/16/18
Carlton: Time for Hillsborough’s Uncle Tom Road to go — but artfully.

Carlton: Time for Hillsborough’s Uncle Tom Road to go — but artfully.

In Hillsborough County — where one of the world’s largest Confederate flags still flies near a busy interstate — you may not be surprised to learn there’s an Uncle Tom Road.The name is a flash point and a slur, shorthand for a black person who will d...
Published: 05/16/18
Clearwater Vice Mayor Doreen Caudell drops out of Pinellas Commission race

Clearwater Vice Mayor Doreen Caudell drops out of Pinellas Commission race

With six months to go before the Nov. 6 election, Clearwater Vice Mayor Doreen Caudell on Monday dropped her bid against Pinellas County Commissioner Pat Gerard for the at-large District 2 seat.Caudell said she decided she’d better be better suited f...
Published: 05/14/18