One of the biggest concerns with Donald Trump becoming the president of the United States was the potential for unethical behavior. As an international businessman, Trump could easily make money off of his presidency. Throughout his campaign, Trump attempted to ease fears that he was just trying to be president to make more money. However, it seems that the newly appointed president is already backing out on promises to avoid doing business for the next four years.
Trump Already Breaking Promises to Focus on Government Instead of Business and His Companies
Trump has spent the last few months repeatedly claiming that there would be no conflicts of interest between his presidency and his career as a businessman. Supposedly, the multiple Trump businesses would be ruled by a blind trust that would not share information with their owner. Trump also used Twitter to reassure followers that “no new deals will be done during my term in office.”
In a press conference on Wednesday, Sean Spicer, the spokesman for Trump, was supposed to share details about how he would distance himself from his businesses during his presidency. Trump used this opportunity to point out that he “could actually run my business and run government at the same time.” He also confirmed rumors that Trump will not be letting a trust control his businesses after all.
Instead, Trump will be resigning from leadership roles in his companies and turning them over to two of his sons. Both Donald Jr. and Eric have been on Trump’s transition team, so they have a great deal of insider information. This informal change in leaders will also allow Trump to continue sharing information between his businesses and his presidential office.
The president elect further qualified that his tweet about no new deals to explain that he only meant he would not do any foreign deals. Trump is now ideally placed to alter domestic policies to benefit his own companies. He could push legislation that reduces regulations intended to protect workers rights, and other laws could be manipulated to further allow corporations to make more profits from federal funding.
If Donal Trump is retaining contact with his businesses and companies, he could also use his new position to gain money from other nations. As president, Trump could potentially pressure foreign governments to accept favorable business deals, give him tax breaks, or remove competitors from the market. Foreign countries hoping for a closer relationship with America may stay at Trump owned hotels or pay for other Trump business services as a method of bribing the president.
Many experts on ethics in politics have mentioned how much Trump’s business plans concern them. The executive director of the Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington released a statement saying,
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. Every decision he will make as president… 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.
The Next Four Years Will Be Filled with Uncertainty
It is difficult to predict just how much Trump’s businesses will influence his decisions. He could easily talk to his sons about how they are running his business or use insider information to gain profits, and anything construed as a bribe could potentially result in impeachment. The only thing that the American public knows for sure is that Trump will continue to face allegations of unethical behavior if he remains involved in his businesses.
Photo by Gage Skidmore, available under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license.