Washington, DC—In response to President-elect Trump’s press conference in which he failed to adequately address his massive conflict of interest issues, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) Executive Director Noah Bookbinder released the following statement:
“The only way for Donald Trump to avoid massive conflicts of interest is to sell his business outside the family and place the assets in a true blind trust, where he will not have any way of knowing or influencing how the assets are allocated. By refusing to divest, Trump is breaking decades of precedent, just as he did with his refusal to release his tax returns. He has failed to live up to the ethical standard of past presidents including Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, and all others of the past 40 years.
He will continue to own his business, which will continue to have foreign interests. It is absurd to believe he will have no knowledge of his business, when he will continue to own it, and it will be run by his children. He claims that he will only know what he reads in newspapers, but newspapers report which foreign dignitaries are staying at his hotel. His businesses all have his name on them in giant gold letters. He will know what they are and what legislation, regulations, or actions will benefit or hurt them.
He’s not worried about conflicts of interest because the statutes don’t apply to the president. If that sounds familiar, it was the position Nixon took when he told David Frost ‘when the president does it, that means it is not illegal.’ Just because it’s not illegal, does not mean it is right or moral. Every decision he will make as president will be followed by the specter of doubt, and will be questioned as to whether his decision is in the best interest of the American people or the best interest of his bottom line. He will also face questions about whether he is violating the constitution by taking payments from foreign governments on a daily basis. Today was his first test as president. He failed.”