Trump's Conflicts of Interest

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How You Can Resist[edit]

Using the Presidency for Personal Gain[edit]

Laws[edit]

A US law states that public employees cannot use their positions for personal gain or to benefit their friends or relatives:

§ 2635.702 Use of public office for private gain. An employee shall not use his public office for his own private gain, for the endorsement of any product, service or enterprise, or for the private gain of friends, relatives, or persons with whom the employee is affiliated in a nongovernmental capacity, including nonprofit organizations of which the employee is an officer or member, and persons with whom the employee has or seeks employment or business relations.

Trump and Governmental Conflicts[edit]

  • 6/5/17: The Trump International Hotel in DC received over $270,000 from Saudi lobbyists. The lobbyists oppose the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, which allows US citizens to sue foreign governments that they think are sponsors of terror.[3]
  • 5/24/17: The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has asked for a hearing with the Trump Organization about its profits from foreign governments. The Constitution requires the president to get Congress's permission to accept money from foreign governments.[4]
  • 5/3/17: The Department of Defense is planning to rent an apartment in Trump Tower. It is unclear whether Trump would financially benefit from this.[5]
  • 4/4/17: Donald Trump's attorney confirmed that President Trump can withdraw money from his organizations—which are in a "trust," meaning he is supposedly no longer in charge—at any time. Trump has been able to withdraw money since he took office.[6]
  • 3/24/17: After promising not to talk about business with his father, Eric Trump say he'll still give him financial reports from the Trump businesses.[7]
  • 3/6/17: Trump's new version of his Muslim Ban still does not ban immigrants from countries that the Trump Organization does business in.[8]
  • 3/4/17: Donald Trump’s sons, Eric and Donald Jr., are overseeing an expansion of the family business. This includes a new hotel chain and expansion to new cities.[9]
  • 2/9/17: Trump invited the Japanese prime minister to stay (and play golf) at his Mar-A-Lago resort in Florida. There are two problems with this: 1) By hosting foreign leaders at his resort, Trump is receiving money from a foreign government; and 2) If Trump is putting the Prime Minister up for free, he is donating money to a foreign government.[10]
  • 2/9/17: During an appearance on Fox & Friends, Kellyanne Conway encouraged viewers to buy Ivanka Trump merchandise, saying that she was giving it a free commercial. This is in direct violation of the US law "Use of public office for private gain."[11] In response to this, the House Oversight Committee sent a letter to the Office of Government Ethics asking for a review of potential ethics violations.[12]
  • 2/9/17: A lobbying firm working for Saudi Arabia paid for a room at Donald Trump’s Washington hotel after Inauguration Day. This is the first payment by a foreign government to a Trump property since he became president, and violates the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution.[13]
  • 2/3/17: Eric Trump's business trip cost taxpayers $97,830 in hotel bills for the Secret Service.[14]
  • 1/27/17: Trump signed an executive order that would suspend all entry to the US from seven Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East. His list doesn’t include Muslim-majority countries where his Trump Organization has done or tried to do business.[15]
  • 1/25/17: Donald Trump's hotel chain plans to triple its US presence, contradicting a promise the president made in December that his organization wouldn't make any new deals while he was in office.[16]
  • 1/24/17: President Trump issued a memo giving the go-ahead to the Dakota Access Pipeline. The pipeline is owned by Energy Transfer Partners, in which Trump used to hold shares worth between $500,000 and $1,000,000.[17] His spokeswoman said he sold the stock in summer 2016.[18][19]
  • 1/23/17: Trump leases the Old Post Office Pavilion in DC for one of his hotels. The fact that Trump now holds public office breaks the terms of the lease and is a conflict of interest.[20]
  • 1/10/17: *The Federal Election Commission has asked Donald Trump for clarification about 50 campaign donations, out of concern that they may have been illegal.[21]

Trump Family's Potential Conflicts of Interest[edit]

  • 5/21/17: On the same weekend that Jared Kushner negotiated a $110 billion arms deal with the Saudis, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates donated $100 million to Kushner’s wife Ivanka Trump’s new “women’s fund.”[22]
  • 5/6/17: The Kushner family told Chinese investors that if they invested $500,000 in New Jersey real estate, they would get an “investor’s visa” and be allowed to immigrate to the United States.[23]
  • 5/4/17: @GenderAtState, the account run by the State Department’s Office of Global Women’s Issues, retweeted Ivanka Trump’s post promoting her new book.[24]
  • 5/3/17: It was found that Jared Kushner did not mention a real-estate start-up called Cadre or his ties to Goldman Sachs in his government financial disclosures/ Senior government officials are required to disclose all business interests before taking office.[25].
  • 4/26/17: Public pension funds in seven states invest in a fund that owns a New York hotel that one of Trump's companies manages. This could violate a Constitutional clause that says that the president cannot personally make money from states.[26]
  • 4/19/17: Ivanka Trump's business has been doing better than ever since Trump took office. Business ties to China in particular have increased. She also registered three new trademarks in China that give the Chinese government new rights to sell her brand.[27]
  • 4/1/17: Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner, who are both senior White House employees, benefit financially from the Trump family's real estate business and investments, which are worth more than $700 million. It is illegal for them to take government action that would benefit them financially, but Ivanka Trump's stake in the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC, and Kushner's real estate dealings with China may already be conflicts of interest.[28]
  • 3/29/17: Donald Trump has named his daughter, Ivanka, Special Assistant to the President. She will become an unpaid government employee with a security clearance. As an official White House employee, she will also have to disclose her finances and any potential conflicts of interest. However, she has still not removed herself from her business.[29] This also probably violates nepotism laws (laws that prevent giving family members positions that they are not qualified for).
  • 3/13/17: Jared Kushner's family will get $400 million from a major Chinese company that is investing in the Kushners’ Manhattan office tower.[30]
  • 3/9/17: Eric Trump, who oversees Trump Golf Courses, said in a press conference: “I think our brand is the hottest it has ever been.” The golf courses have gotten a publicity boost from Trump's presidency.[31]
  • 3/8/17: Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner are renting their house in DC from a Chilean billionaire whose company is suing the US government over a mine.[32]
  • 2/9/17: Donald Trump's son Eric visited a Trump Organization's old failed real estate project in the Dominican Republic. There is talk that the project might be revived. This goes against the President's pledge that his company would not launch new foreign deals while he is in office.[33]
  • 2/8/17: Trump blasted Nordstrom for no longer carrying his daughter Ivanka's brand. He said she was being treated unfairly. Nordstrom's stock temporarily dipped, but later rebounded.[34]
  • 1/31/17:Several large corporations that would benefit from Trump's policies contributed to Trump's inaugural committee. This got them access to inaugural events. These corporations include Pfizer, Dow Chemical, Microsoft, Exxon, Amgen, Altria, GM, and Verizon.[35]
  • 1/9/17: Donald Trump has named his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to the position of senior adviser, which most experts say violates anti-nepotism laws (laws that prevent giving family members positions that they are not qualified for).[36] The Justice Department says it is not a violation.[37][38]
  • The companies in the Trump Organization save millions of dollars on taxes because they can deduct interest paid on debts from their taxable income. Congressional Republicans have considering changing this rule, but Trump's tax plan would maintain it, benefiting his company.[39]
  • 8/2015: Donald Trump registered eight new companies in Saudi Arabia soon after announcing that he would be running for president.[40]

Lawsuits[edit]

  • 6/8/17: Representative Jerry Nadler (D-NY) said that House and Senate Democrats plan to sue Trump because his businesses are profiting from foreign governments.[41].
  • 4/18/17: A legal group expanded a federal lawsuit that accused Trump of violating the Constitution by continuing to own and profit from his business empire.[42]
  • 3/9/17: A local restaurant in Washington, DC, is suing the Trump International Hotel over "unfair competition."[43]
  • 1/23/17: Lawyers have filed a lawsuit saying that Trump is violating the Constitution by allowing his hotels and other businesses to continue taking money from foreign governments. The suit will ask the federal court to order Trump to stop accepting these payments.[44][45]

Resources[edit]

Building a System of Comprehensive Accountability to Control Corruption by Larry Diamond