Senate Democrats will introduce legislation in January seeking to force the disclosure and divestment of any of President-elect Donald Trump’s business interests before he is sworn into office.
The bill also requires that the vice president and cabinet officials and other presidential appointees do the same before assuming their duties.
Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Chris Coons (D-DE), Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) have all signed onto the legislation that has very little chance of being brought up for a vote in a Republican-controlled Senate that is going to be more focused on rapidly confirming Trump’s nominees and repealing the Affordable Care Act at the beginning of the year.
Democrats argue that Trump’s vast business interests– which range from connections to foreign governments and international investors in places like Libya, Turkey and China– will affect his ability to lead the country.
“Our President-elect has significantly greater risk of business and financial conflicts of interest than any other president, yet has so far refused to follow the precedent set by previous presidents. To this day, President-elect Trump has refused to address his conflicts of interest,” said Coons said in a statement.
“Unless he takes steps to address these conflicts, President-elect Trump will be in violation of the Constitution on ‘Day One’ of his presidency,” the Democrats wrote. “For decades, U.S. presidents have addressed concerns regarding foreign and domestic conflicts of interest by divesting their financial interests and placing them in a true blind trust or the equivalent. The bill codifies this longstanding practice.”
Under the Democrats’ bill Trump, Pence, their spouses and children will either have to sell their assets or place them in a “true blind trust.” Presidential appointees would also be barred from dealing with any matters that are tied to the president or vice president’s business interests.
“The American people deserve to know that the President of the United States is working to do what’s best for the country – not using his office to do what’s best for himself and his businesses,” Warren said. “The only way for President-elect Trump to truly eliminate conflicts-of-interest is to divest his financial interests and place them in a blind trust. This has been the standard for previous presidents, and our bill makes clear the continuing expectation that President-elect Trump do the same.”