Sean Spicer argued Wednesday that conflicts of interest presented by the involvement of President-elect Donald Trump’s adult children in both his transition team and his business actually aren’t problematic unless they’re “sneaky about it.”
“Since going back to that debate in August of last year, he was very clear of the role the family was going to play in the campaign, and the government and in his business,” the transition team’s senior communications adviser said in an interview with CNN’s Kate Bolduan, referencing the first presidential debate when the issue of Trump’s business conflicts of interest was brought up.
Bolduan corrected Spicer, noting that Trump said throughout the campaign that his adult children would operate his business and that he would concentrate fully on his duties as president.
“Right, and then he put every one of them on the transition team and made it clear they would be part of this process,” Spicer replied.
Spicer argued Ivanka Trump, Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr.’s involvement in the transition would only present a legitimate conflict of interest if the transition team hadn’t been transparent about their participation, saying that “conflicts of interest arise when you are sneaky about it, shady about it.”
“This exists,” Bolduan countered.
“If you tell everyone here’s what’s going on, ‘Here’s the process, here are the people playing a role,’ that’s being transparent,” Spicer said. “What we have seen in government for so often is people have been shady about their roles, hidden things, not released things.”
Yet it has been news organizations, not the Trump transition team, who’ve noted Trump’s children have already presented serious conflicts of interest through their participation in both the family business and their father’s transition.
The New York Times first reported that Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, sat in on the President-elect’s meeting with the Japanese prime minister while her clothing company was in negotiations with a manufacturer whose parent company’s largest shareholder is a state-owned Japanese bank.
And on Wednesday, Politico Playbook reported that Donald Trump Jr., an avid hunter, was intimately involved in the search for an Interior Department secretary.