Trump Promises to Leave His Businesses. We’ll Believe It When We See It.

“I feel it is visually important.”

Peter Foley/ZUMA


Amid mounting concerns over his ever-growing potential conflicts of interest, Donald Trump on Wednesday said he intends to abandon his businesses “in total” so he can properly lead the country. The president-elect posted a series of early-morning tweets:

Trump has insisted that despite concerns about massive conflicts of interest that have arisen since his election, he is under no legal obligation to distance himself from his businesses. “The law is totally on my side, meaning, the president can’t have a conflict of interest,” he told the New York Times last week. Trump is correct. The presidency is exempt from conflict-of-interest rules.

But his intention to transfer his business ties to his adult children will likely do little to ameliorate concerns over Trump’s various business entanglements. Legal experts note that simply knowing who controls the assets negates the blind trust arrangement. His announcement on Wednesday comes one day after the Kingdom of Bahrain revealed it was hosting a large celebration at Trump’s Washington, DC, hotel next month—the same property other foreign diplomats have said they feel pressured to stay at while in town.

“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!'” one Asian diplomat recently told the Washington Post. “Isn’t it rude to come to his city and say, ‘I am staying at your competitor?'”

Trump’s news conference on December 15 will be his first since becoming president-elect.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

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It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

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Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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