Sunlight and the public are still waiting for answers on what open government will look like in the White House of President-Elect Donald J. Trump. What we do know is that the President-elect has not only failed to set up a true blind trust for his assets, but in the weeks since Election Day has mixed the business interests of the Trump Organization with those of the American people, whom he represents. There is no way for a President of United States to recuse himself from making domestic or foreign policy decisions which would have an impact upon his business holdings. If the transition does not take action, the potential for the most corrupt administration in history is clear.
So long as President-elect Trump does not divest himself from his complex foreign and domestic business interests, both real and rumored corruption will cast a shadow over his presidency and everything he tries to do in government, whether right or wrong. President-elect Trump’s global conflicts of interest matter, as does his continued lack of disclosure, without which we cannot assess nor identity all of the potential foreign or domestic entanglements that exist. As John Wonderlich noted, “the risks of a president who asserts the right to continue business activities outside the presidency stretch well-beyond Americans’ typical conception of corruption. The way Trump uses corporate control to affect his political power may present a bigger risk than the way he uses political power to affect his personal finances.”
After Election Day, Sunlight stood with over a dozen other transparency, anti-corruption and ethics advocates and sent a letter calling on President-Elect Donald Trump to liquidate his holdings and put them in a blind trust controlled by an independent overseer to remove the unprecedented conflicts of interest between the presidency and a global business empire. On December 9th, after Trump did not take any action, Sunlight signed on to a second letter addressed to the President-elect, joining a bipartisan group of dozens of governance experts arguing that President-elect Donald Trump’s continued ownership of business enterprises will cause serious problems for both his presidency and the country unless he divests and discloses.
No other remedy will address the fundamental issues these conflicts pose. The President of the United States is not above the law, as former White House ethics counsels Norm Eisen and Richard Painter explain in the video embedded below…