To quote something that was said years ago about another politician: let Donald Trump be Donald Trump. In this case it might be a lesson to voters who thought that this man would solve or alleviate the problems facing America. Even though he hasn’t taken the oath of office he’s showing signs of how little interest he has in being bound by unspoken rules to safeguard America, American interests, and the presidency when it comes to security, ethics, and the integrity of all involved. If the president is able to get away with ignoring or denigrating rules, laws or clauses designed to ensure that he doesn’t have a conflict of interest what will the rest of his cabinet do? The reason we don’t tolerate conflicts of interest in the public sphere is the harm they can cause if the officials are asked to choose between a good deal for them that hurts the public or a good deal for the public that hurts their interests. It’s why Trump ought to be ordered to place his business holdings in a blind trust. Of course he won’t. His belief in himself as the exception to every rule, a belief supported by the GOP which doesn’t want the public to know what’s under the hood, means that the inevitable conflict of interest will probably leave us hurting with no recourse. I do hope the GOP is proud of this. I’m not.
I’m fascinated, in a horrified way, at how Donald Trump handled this issue, which the OGE has been warning of since November 8. The fact that Trump would simply hire a lawyer willing to say and do what he asks, doesn’t make matter easier–it’s no better than telling his doctor what to say about his health.
That press conference was a farce. Mr. Painter, you and Norm Eisen were blunt and forceful after watching Trump state how he plans to resolve ethics issues. For the average citizen, it’s insulting that a President Elect claims to be above the law.
When he states “there is no conflict of interest for presidents,” he’s willfully misinterpreting the meaning of that phrase. Of course there are conflicts of interest for a president with a business empire the size and breadth of his! All of us have a right to be angered by his cavalier attitude, particularly the potential for terrorist attacks on his properties overseas.
The founders who wrote the constitution were adamant that presidents not enrich themselves in office. We are way past the point where Mr. Trump is given a free pass for ignorance. His willful arrogance that he can do what he pleases assuming die-hard supporters will share his ire that this is all a personal vendetta against him is insulting to every tax-paying American.
My questions to Trump are these: Why did you run for President? And, who is who’s going to run the country during a constitutional crisis when you’re tied up in court?
Trump’s lawyer commented that “President-elect Trump should not be expected to destroy the company he built.” Did he not know, when he ran for President, that he was choosing public service over his business career? Does he have any idea what public service is?
Donald Trump had, and still has, no concept of what it means to be a public servant. He does not understand, nor does he want to understand, what it means to be President and what is required of a President.
All he wanted was to be the big deal – the boss guy – the one everybody listens to.
He and all of his aids never considered any of this to be a problem, all the time he was running? He had time to tweet about the “fatso” Miss Universe contestant, the cast of Hamilton and Meryl Streep. But this? They bring in a big stack of folders and papers and say, “look, we’re fixing it”.
Trump has managed to manipulate and bluster stupid, selfish bankers, zoning officials, gambling officials and even a minority of the voters. But this – this he cannot fake. He’s doing his best, but Trump is caught in a place he is unaccustomed to. He can’t bluff or bluster his way through the constitution.
One commentator the night of his “press conference” said it best. Trump has to decide if he wants to be President or a property owner. He wants it all ways, of course, that’s who he is. He wants to lie his way through it. He wants to say, “believe me”, and have us believe him. He wants the entire constitution turned upside down for his personal benefit.
He really does not want to be President. But he doesn’t realize it because he has no idea what a President is and what it requires of a person. But if Trump is half as smart as he wants us to think, how did we end up here?
What I find incredible is that he’s boasting that he was offered a $2 billion bribe by Dubai.
“A man without ethics is a wild beast loosed upon this world.”
– Albert Camus
Donald Trump is an unleashed wild, feral boar let loose on the Presidency, America and the world.
Devoid of any sense and right and wrong, devoid of decency, diplomacy and dignity, devoid of respect for others, devoid of paying federal income taxes, Donald Derriere Trump simply has no ethics.
His Presidency is a Constitutional and national wrecking ball.
Not yet even in office, has already destroyed a good part of the fabric of America with his Birther Liar ascendancy to the Fake News National throne of proud ignorance.
Wait until he’s inaugurated and legitimate news organizations are effectively banished from asking him questions about his award-winning lack of ethics.
America dug itself quite a grave on November 8.
The television show “Blackish” had an episode last night that addressed the angst many Americans feel about the election and why some supported
The Con Don. One young man said, “America is a business – the biggest business in the world. Doesn’t it make sense that we would have a business man run it?” Of course others chimed in about his failed business practices and conflicts of interest but no one addressed the real issue.
OUR American government – and all governments – are NOT BUSINESSES. They are social constructs meant to protect us against this very thing – one person acting like he has a right to make all the decisions and that a hostile takeover for private profit is just fine and dandy. It is NOT. Not now, not ever.
THEY work for US – WE do not work for them. It’s time WE flex our muscles and demand that they stop trying to destroy OUR social, economic and civil rights safety nets.
Contrary to Prof. Painter’s final paragraph, it appears that we are most decidedly _not_ entitled to a president who can protect the interests of our country. The financial tangles are merely one part of a much larger abandonment of legal precedent that we’ve come to expect from our incoming commander in chief.
Trotting out a lawyer and filling a folding table with impressively high stacks of documents says nothing about how the office of the president would be safeguarded from influence by economic forces, whether foreign or domestic. It was a ham-fisted display, the intent of which was to awe the slack-jawed rubes who might be impressed by those things. Its intent was not to answer the question, but to end the debate.
It says a lot about how the incoming president regards ordinary humans who do not have tall buildings with their names emblazoned on them. If his incongruous appointments of white supremacists, billionaires, evangelicals and ordinary idiots to high positions didn’t send the message forcefully enough, his brushing aside serious concerns about conflict of interest must surely let us know just where we are in the pecking order. He is the head pecker. End of story.
Handing the operations over to the kids isn’t much of a safeguard. Uday and Qusay were chips off Saddam’s block, and that didn’t work out too well. So before the new president declares Mission Accomplished, he should sure he’s not standing on a powder keg with a lit fuse.
I don’t think the Founding Fathers envisioned this situation. A president who cares about himself far more than his country, and a cooperative Congress that will let him do what he wants. As Trump said, he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not lose any votes. And now he could do it and not lose congressional support.
This is awful.
A Republican controlled congress won’t vote to impeach. But if progressives get active and flip the congress in the mid-terms, we could evict Mr. Trump in less than four years.
With the hyperventilating that occurred because Hillary Clinton’s ASSISTANT MIGHT have taken phone calls from foreign leaders who also happened to contribute to a charity foundation that she was not involved with beyond the family name, it’s only fair to see the HUGE conflicts of interest that will accompany the financial benefits he will personally reap from his real estate deals around the world and how he deals with leaders in countries where those holdings exist. Can we chant “Lock him up” in the next election cycle?
Trump tweeted an endorsement of a private company today. He told his followers to buy from LL Bean. As a salesman he sees nothing wrong with this, but as president of the United States, as a servant of the people of the nation, it is a problem. It suggests favoritism, do me a favor and I’ll return a favor.
I don’t think he understands the difference between private industry built on sales and civil service to a nation, including the competitors of LLBean.
Good article – sums it all up well, but here is my question: WILL CONGRESS ACT?
Even selling his own personal interests in the various businesses wouldn’t be enough if his children/other family members continued to have ownership interests in them. Sadly, it seems that many people who voted for him don’t care if he is riven by conflicts. His election signals nothing less than a failure of American democracy.
I disagree. This is a smart cunning mind. He may try to act as if he’s clueless, but he has been warned . I believe he knows precisely what he’s doing , and loves to get into fights/-the more the better. They whip up his base and feed his ego.
He has been told numerous times what he has to do on ethics. His behavior yesterday underscored his arrogance in that regard.
It seems that even the press and intelligence communities as well as most people with keen insight are aware now that Trump is a Putin puppet, and his campaign was aware and he is still aware and is hand in hand with all the plans to continue to sell USA for Trump’s gain. For God’s sake – go after the treason committing fraudster now and gut him like the swamp creature he is please. Thank you.
Just remember that the kind of people who voted for him believe that pro wrestling is real. Explains a lot. They will gladly wolf down the empty calories of his fakery, day after day, and reject any true substance. Meanwhile, democracy itself dies of malnutrition.
This charade will end badly–for Trump and I fear, for our country.
Thank you for this informative article. Trump’s perspective and motivations and focus as POTUS are blatantly obvious. His concerns do not involve the American People or “Making America Great Again”. Donald Trump does not care about democracy, decency or the American People, He cares about himself and his personal wealth. And NOW his Son-in-Law has been designated / appointed his Senior Advisor. The majority of the American People do want him his taxes to be reviewed. He has had all the time in the world to prepare these documents. He hasn’t done it because Donald Trump doesn’t believe he is required to be accountable to anyone but himself. EVERY SENATOR & member of Congress needs to insist he submit his taxes. If they don’t… they also aren’t doing their job…. which means we must not reelect them.
Did people follow Senator Warren’s questioning of the HUD appointee, Ben Carson in the confirmation hearings?
Basically, Ben Carson, in response to Senator Warren’s direct and pointed question on HUD benefiting Trump and his family, left the door open to programs that further enriched Trump (and family) as long as it was providing housing to Americans (duh, someone would obviously get housing!!)
THIS is how you explain to Trumplandia what conflict of interest means! Don’t ask people, whom Trump spoke to in 3rd grader language, in the abstract about concerns about “conflict of interest”. What the heck will they understand? Flesh it out for them. Make it concrete and understandable at 3rd grader language.
The media asks them about Russian prostitutes. Why would they care when they didn’t care about him grabbing American women without their permission? But, explain to them what Trump’s conflict of interest means in concrete, and not abstract, terms and you will set the ball rolling to eventually them taking the blinders off their eyes. Not immediately. But, eventually…
KISS still works: Keep It Simple Stupid!
If Trump is in violation of the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution, is this an impeachable offense? What proof would be required? Who has standing to commence impeachment?
Unless it hurts their self-interest, meaning that it threatens to hurt them at the polls, the Republican congress will overlook all of this. If their constituents demand ethical governance, congressionals will pay attention. Otherwise, it´s business as usual for Mr. Trump.
Of course the NYT Editorial Board is absolutely correct. However, it will not matter because at this point there are no institutional checks and balances, and Republican voters don’t seem to understand or care about the stakes involved.
Hoping there is some way to bring a lawsuit against Trump that will highlight this issue for the public. Hopefully it would get to the Supreme Court before Trump nominates, and the Republican-controlled Senate confirms, a rubber-stamping right wing Justice.
Trump complains that he and his family shouldn’t have to sacrifice their business interests so that he can be President. But he undertook to run for this office and knew or should have known the consequences of winning. Time didn’t start yesterday. He wanted to become president, with all that that entails. If he wanted to be a businessman, he should have remained a businessman. He has no basis to complain about the consequences of his own actions.
I simply don’t think Trump understands what it means to be a public servant. It is a given that a public servant works for all of us (all 250 million plus of us)` I am sorry that he didn’t understand that when he committed to us. If he is unwilling to live with the very clear terms of employment he needs to be asked to leave and, failing that, needs to be terminated.