Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The business of America is Trump's business

As the HuffPo reports:
President-elect Donald Trump told The New York Times Tuesday that laws around conflicts of interest don’t apply to him, and he can simply keep running his businesses from the White House.

“In theory I could run my business perfectly and then run the country perfectly,” Trump said, according to tweets from New York Times reporters interviewing the president-elect Tuesday. “There’s never been a case like this.”

He is technically correct on both counts.
 The Atlantic has a bit of history about how that came about:

In 1974, Nelson Rockefeller, a fabulously wealthy New York Republican, unexpectedly found himself on the verge of being confirmed by the Senate to the office of vice president, which had been vacated by Gerald Ford after he assumed the presidency. Senators had some concerns: Wouldn’t Rockefeller’s capacity to counsel the president on financial regulation, for example, be compromised by his family’s holdings in the Chase Manhattan Bank?

Rockefeller promised the Senate that, as a man of irreproachable integrity, he would never allow his private interests to cloud his official judgment—and in those clubby days of the Senate, such assurances counted for a lot. There was, of course, the sticky matter of the federal conflict-of-interest law, which prohibits “officers” of the United States from participating in any governmental action in which they have a financial interest, and would ostensibly limit the topics on which Rockefeller could advise the president. But after receiving a Justice Department letter affirming that the vice president and the president are exempt from that statute, the Senate felt free to confirm Rockefeller. He became vice president on December 19, 1974.

In 1989, there was concern that outgoing President Ronald Reagan might have been vulnerable to an investigation because of a spate of conflict-of-interest controversies involving his aides. That’s when Congress amended the conflict-of-interest statutes to say that their use of the term “officer” would no longer include the president or vice president. Prior to that, even the 1974 Justice Department letter clearing the way for Rockefeller never tried to argue that the vice president isn’t a government officer.
 The only problem with the Atlantic story is that in 1989, the Congress was Democratic; it is not clear why they would give President Reagan a pass.

The relevant statutes are here.

Trump has had no problem in exploiting dubious loopholes in the law.  Already as POTUS-elect, he has pushed his business interests in Argentina, India and Scotland. And it is unlikely that the Republicans, who control Congress, will act to change the law and restrain Trump.

Well, Trump voters didn't want "corrupt Hillary". Let's see how many of them object to Trump.

Yes, I know their stand it going to be "it ain't illegal".  Well, Hillary Clinton has not done anything illegal.  Thirty years of investigation by the Republicans has yielded nothing.  There probably is not a provably legally clean politician in the US of A.  If Trump voters objected to the appearance of unethical behavior, then they should start speaking up about Trump.  But I won't hold my breath waiting.