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Trump: ‘The president can’t have a conflict of interest’

Donald Trump said he was surprised by how little was legally required of him. | AP Photo

The president-elect calls the Trump brand ‘hotter’ since winning the White House.

Donald Trump said on Tuesday that he faces no legal obligation to cut ties with his businesses even as he described how winning the presidency has made his brand “hotter” and acknowledged advancing his business interests during a conversation with a politician from the United Kingdom.

“The law’s totally on my side. The president can’t have a conflict of interest,” Trump said in an interview with New York Times editors and writers, according to real-time reports from reporters on Twitter.

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Trump said he was surprised by how little was legally required of him.

“In theory, I could run my business perfectly and then run the country perfectly. There’s never been a case like this,” he said. “I’d assumed that you’d have to set up some type of trust or whatever, and you don’t.”

It’s true that federal conflicts-of-interest laws exempt the president, and he’ll have the power to change White House ethics rules. But there remains a constitutional ban on accepting payments from foreign governments, as well as anti-corruption laws against bribery and fraud. Enforcing them against the president, however, would probably have to be done through impeachment.

During the sit-down with journalists, Trump did little to ease concerns about how he could use the nation’s highest office to enrich himself.

He acknowledged a New York Times report that he encouraged British official Nigel Farage and his entrourage to prevent a wind farm from affecting the view from his Scottish golf course. “I might have brought it up,” he said.

He also said his new luxury hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue is “probably a more valuable asset than it was before.” The Washington Post reported in the past week that foreign diplomats are eager to patronize the hotel to curry the president-elect’s favor.

Trump said the brand, meaning “Trump,” is now “hotter.”

Trump said his companies were less important to him than being president, and he “would like to do something” about his business entanglements. But he rejected a suggestion of selling his company, saying it would be “a really hard thing to do because I have real estate.”

Instead, Trump said he is handing the operations off to his adult children, as he said he would during the campaign. But that does little to insulate the president-elect from his business concerns, legal and ethics experts have pointed out, because he would still know what assets he owned and would communicate with the people running them.

On top of that, Trump’s daughter Ivanka reportedly has joined him in conversations with leaders from Argentina and Japan, and her husband, Jared Kushner, is under consideration for a senior role in Trump’s White House.

“If it were up to some people, I would never, ever see my daughter Ivanka again,” Trump said.

Source: POLITICO – TOP Stories

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