Donald Trump likes to brag that the president ‚Äúcannot‚ÄĚ have a business conflict of interest. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and a group of Senate Democrats are about to introduce a bill to prove him wrong, and they need our help.1
With Trump‚Äôs deep business ties to foreign governments and businesses, he will be in violation of the Constitution‚Äôs rules against bribery on his first day in office. But federal conflict-of-interest rules contain a glaring loophole exempting the president and vice president from many restrictions. Sen. Warren‚Äôs new bill would make it clear that Trump has to follow the rules ‚Äď or else.2
A president using his power to enrich himself while indebted to foreign governments is not normal, and we cannot let Washington Democrats and the corporate media pretend it is. We need to get behind leaders like Sen. Warren and make it clear even before the bill is introduced that Donald Trump is putting America‚Äôs safety and security at risk in order to line his own pockets.
The very first act of the new Republican Congress was an attempt to gut the independent Office of Congressional Ethics. But under massive public pressure, Republicans changed course within 24 hours. The whole episode was evidence that Trump Republicans are desperate to make corruption easier ‚Äď and extremely vulnerable to public outrage on this exact issue.
Every modern president has voluntarily chosen to follow conflict-of-interest rules ‚Äď until now. Even though those rules exempt the president and vice president, past leaders of both parties have divested their financial interests or placed them in a blind trust.3 Trump merely intends to turn over day-to-day operations to his two sons while maintaining a financial stake in his business, which a bipartisan group of ethicists and good government groups has condemned.4
Trump‚Äôs refusal to disclose and divest shows that he is intent on enriching himself and his Wall Street friends at the expense of Americans who struggle to make ends meet. This is the type of cronyism and corruption that conflict of interest rules are designed to prevent. Worse, his deep business ties to global financiers and the likes of China, Russia, Libya and Turkey put us all at risk. Trump has every incentive to make foreign policy decisions that benefit himself while putting American lives at risk.
Sen. Warren‚Äôs new bill will tackle Trump‚Äôs potential corruption on both fronts. It would close the loophole allowing the president, vice president and their families to avoid conflict-of-interest rules ‚Äď forcing Trump to disclose and fully divest his financial interests. It also emphasizes that the anti-bribery ‚Äúemoluments clause‚ÄĚ of the Constitution applies directly to situations like this, where the president‚Äôs wealth is dependent upon pleasing foreign dictators.5 This bill would make it absolutely clear that Trump‚Äôs business ties put America at risk, so we need to get behind it in a big way.
CREDO members know that Donald Trump‚Äôs rhetoric about ‚Äúdraining the swamp‚ÄĚ was just one more lie from a racist authoritarian desperate to gain power. As noted by Sen. Warren:
‚ÄúTrump is not ‚Äėdraining the swamp.‚Äô Nope, he‚Äôs inviting the biggest, ugliest swamp monsters in the front door, and he‚Äôs turning them loose on our government and our economy.‚ÄĚ6
But we need to make sure the gullible traditional corporate media outlets ‚Äď and any struggling Americans who wanted to believe that someone would end Wall Street‚Äôs stranglehold on our democracy ‚Äď realize the truth.
Let‚Äôs insist that Democrats resist Trump‚Äôs un-American agenda at every turn, put the spotlight on the way he is using government to enrich himself and his well-heeled friend, and make sure Trump‚Äôs greed doesn't put our security and safety at risk.
Stand with Sen. Warren: Make Trump disclose and divest. Click below to sign the petition:
Thank you for speaking out,
Murshed Zaheed, Political Director
Add your name:
- Office of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, ‚Äú,‚ÄĚ Dec. 15, 2016.
- Jennifer Rubin, ‚Äú,‚ÄĚ Washington Post, Dec. 11, 2016.
- Office Sen. Warren, ‚Äú.‚ÄĚ
- Sen. Warren, ‚Äú,‚ÄĚ Nov. 17, 2016.