By Sam Tarr
December 4 2016: The Massasoit Tribune
Donald Trump continues to draw attention with provocative actions and tweets. Similar to the campaign, Trump goes from one controversial moment to the next, grabbing headlines all along the way. A twitter tirade about CNN, is quickly forgotten as the President-elect suggest that flag-burners face a “loss of citizenship or year in jail.”
One issue that will not likely be dismissed anytime soon, however, is the growing concerns over Trump’s potential conflicts of interest, involving his wide array for foreign business entanglements.
Trump rose eye-brows while conducting an interview with the New York Times editorial board on November 22rd.
“The law is totally on my side,” Trump said. “The president can’t have a conflict of interest.”
The remark instantly drew comparisons to Richard Nixon’s infamous quote saying that “when the president does it, that means that it is not illegal.”
Trump issued a series of tweets, announcing a December 15th press conference where he will lay out how he will leave his business “in total.” He also said that even though he is not bound by the law to do so, it is “visually important” to not have a conflict of interest with his businesses.
It is unclear just how the president-elect would be able to separate himself. During the campaign, he floated the possibility of leaving his business in a “blind trust,” with his children in charge. The suggested solution was widely viewed as insufficient.
Less than a month after the election, many are already pointing to conflicts of interest, already impacting the future presidency.
The recently opened Trump International Hotel Washington, has a line in the lease contract says that it cannot benefit any elected official. The General Services Administration and legal experts agree that it is a clear conflict of interest but may not have legal channels to rectify the problem.
“This is a horrible outcome,” said David Drabkin, a former General Services Administration executive. Drabkin continued to say there may be no way to force Trump out, and that it “can only be resolved by the president doing the right thing.”
The one hotel is part of the bigger conflict of interest, involving where foreign diplomats decide to stay when traveling to D.C. or around the world.
The Washington post reported that many foreign diplomats were already planning on ways to “curry favor or access with the next president.”
“Why wouldn’t I stay at his hotel blocks from the White House” said one Asian diplomat in the report. “Isn’t it rude to come to his city and say, ‘I am staying at your competitor?”
Also, many see opportunities for foreign leaders to use Trump’s various international hotels and resorts to influence the future president.
Mauricio Macri, President of Argentina, called Trump to congratulate him on his election victory. Accusations surfaced that Trump asked a business favor from Macri involving Trump Office in downtown Buenos Aires
“Trump asked him to authorize a building he’s constructing in Buenos Aires” said Argentinian journalist Jorge Lanata. “It wasn’t just geopolitical chat.”
“Macri did not speak to Donald Trump about the building of the tower,” A spokesman for the Argentine president said. “They only talked about continuing the relationship between the two countries and recalled their personal relationship from years ago.”