Elizabeth Warren Introduces Presidential Conflicts of Interest Act
Democrats in the House and Senate have introduced legislation that would require the president and vice president to divest from any financial conflicts of interests, taking aim at President-Elect Donald Trump’s myriad business entanglements spanning the globe.
The Presidential Conflicts of Interest Act, introduced by Elizabeth Warren in the Senate and sponsored by Katherine Clark in the House, seeks to strengthen the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause, which prohibits public officials from “accept[ing] any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, price, or foreign state.”
For example, the Bank of China rents office space in Trump’s eponymous tower in New York City, while foreign dignitaries have already logged visits to Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. in hopes of currying favor.
“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 in a release. “The only way for President-elect Trump to truly eliminate conflicts-of-interest is to divest his financial interests by placing 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.”
The bill not only requires the president and vice-president to divest, but their spouses and dependent children, as well. It would also require presidential appointees to recuse themselves from any matters involving the president’s financial conflicts of interest that come before their respective agencies.
“Every recent president in modern history has taken steps to ensure his financial interests do not conflict with the needs of the American people,” Clark said. “The American people need to be able to trust that the President’s decisions are based on the best interests of families at home, and not the President’s financial interests.”
Because the full scope of Trump’s potential conflicts of interest remain unknown due to his unreleased tax returns, the bill also includes Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden’s Presidential Tax Transparency Act, which requires the sitting president, as well as presidential nominees of major parties, to release their three most recent federal income tax returns.