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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Saturday, January 20, 2018


Trump tweets his desire to quit his business operations to concentrate on presidency

Stoking doubts among ethics experts

Share on Facebook November 30, 2016, Reporter : Big News Network, Reader : 407


NEW YORK, U.S. - President-elect Donald Trump has said that he would leave his billion-dollar business to focus on presidency in a series of tweets on Wednesday morning.

Trump earlier said he would continue to run both his business and presidency as the 1978 Ethics in Government Act exempted a sitting president from conflicts of interest. But an array of conflicts of interests has led to the change in his decision. 

He tweeted, “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. 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.”

He further said that the legal proceedings to separate him from the business were under process and he would disclose more on December 15 in a press conference with his family. He also added that the presidency was “a far more important task!”

"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 said.

However, he hasn’t said who would be taking over his business operations among his three oldest children ― Donald Jr., Ivanka and Eric or a blind trust.

According to Trump’s lawyer, his three adult children would control the blind trust but the plan might not come through as he enlisted all three to serve on his presidential transition team’s executive committee.

Ethics lawyers are however not entirely satisfied, with fears being high that he could use his Oval Office perch to benefit his personal bottom line. Questions have further been raised about whether Trump would make decisions as president that could come at the expense of national interest.

The two White House ethics lawyers Richard Painter and Norman Eisen meanwhile have said, “A blind trust is defined by federal law as one in which a federal official selects an independent trustee (with no familial ties) who sells the official’s known assets and purchases investments unknown to the official. That is what makes it blind.”

“Otherwise he will have a personal financial interest in his businesses that will sometimes conflict with the public interest and constantly raise questions,” they added.

However, separating from his business may not end the conflicts of interest controversy that has surrounded him ever since he was elected earlier this month. 

The Trump Organisation is a real estate and licensing company spread across the U.S. and at least 20 other countries. The Trump International Hotel is also in the list of interests, as it may hold international business meetings. It will also be easier for the White House to lodge in to the hotel as it will be easily able to identify a Trump property. 

The Bahrain embassy is reportedly planning to hold its annual day celebration at the same hotel in Washington, and reports point out that some foreign officials were told that they should stay there to help their relationship with the White House.

Progress in cabinet selection

Meanwhile, Trump has made more progress in his cabinet selection. He has nominated former Goldman Sachs executive Steven Mnuchin as the treasury secretary and billionaire investor Wilbur Ross for commerce secretary.

If the Senate approves Mnuchin’s appointment, the 53-year-old would play a crucial role in Trump’s tax policies and infrastructure plans. 

Mnuchin, who has no government experience, led Trump’s finance operations during the presidential campaign. 

He is also expected to lead an agency for implementing international economic sanctions.

Mnuchin said the administration planned for the most significant middle income tax cut since Reagan and also hinted at lowering corporate taxes to 15 percent to encourage companies to stay in the country. 

He said, “We think by cutting corporate taxes we’ll create huge economic growth and we’ll have huge personal income.”

The duo also has a trade reform plan as they believe regional trade pacts favour bilateral agreements with trade partners. 

Ross said, “We've been doing a lot of dumb trade.”

In regards to China’s foreign exchange policy, Mnuchin said that the Treasury and Commerce departments had trade enforcement capabilities to deal with threats from any country that could manipulate U.S. currency. 

He said, “If we determine we need to label them as a currency manipulator that's something the Treasury would do."

Trump is also focusing on selecting the Secretary of State, a decision that many nations are keenly awaiting. 

Experts believe Republican Mitt Romney, who has been a Trump critic, is a potential candidate for the post especially after the duo met for dinner on Tuesday night.  

Trump also met another potential candidate General John Kelly, a retired Marine and has meetings scheduled with Linda McMahon, a former Senate candidate in Connecticut, former Georgia Governor Sonny Purdue and U.S. Senator Dan Coats of Indiana. 

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, U.S. Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee and former CIA Director David Petraeus are also being considered for the job.

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