Ending Trump’s Conflict of Interest Problem in Three Easy Steps

November 22, 2016

Many of us have been raising the issue that Donald Trump is apparently prepared to defy well-established precedent and continue to maintain his business empire even as he serves as president. For the last fifty years presidents have put their assets in a blind trust so that there would not be a question as to whether they were working to fatten their own pockets or for what they considered the good of the country. This also prevents the most blatant forms of bribery by those seeking to curry the president’s favor. 

It is hard to see any reason that Donald Trump should not be held to the same rules. But some have made the argument that, given his extensive holdings, it would be almost impossible to sell them off in the two months remaining until he takes office. This means that he could not avoid the problem of making decisions that will have a direct impact on his business interests.

Actually it is not hard to find a way around this problem:

1) Donald Trump arranges to hire three auditors from an independent accounting firm. Each one does an independent assessment of Trump’s holdings and assigns it a value.

2) The middle assessment becomes a benchmark. Donald Trump buys an insurance policy that will guarantee him that he will get this amount of money when all assets are sold. If the total take is less than the benchmark, he collects on the insurance policy. Any money received in excess of the benchmark goes to a charity of Trump’s choosing (not the Trump Foundation).

3) All the proceeds from the sales are placed in a blind trust.

There you have it, three easy steps that Donald Trump could take if he wanted to end the conflicts of interest he now faces. It doesn’t seem likely that he will go this route on his own, the question is whether anyone (i.e. Republicans) will force him.


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