President-elect Donald Trump is peddling the notion that he can let his sons run his businesses but make no “new” deals after he is inaugurated. On Wednesday, he held a meeting of tech giant chief executives in which three of his adult children and his son-in-law participated.
Ethics experts were flabbergasted. “Donald Trump’s children aren’t just family, they are tasked with running his business completely separate from his running the government. What we’ve seen so far is not an administration avoiding the appearance of conflicts of interest but one actively courting it,” said Jordan Libowitz of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. He continued, “The president-elect of the United States just brought in the heads of many of America’s largest companies to meet with him and the executives of his personal business. He is relying on the senior leadership of his business to help him pick Cabinet officials.” Libowitz added, “There is no explicable reason for his children to be so involved with the running of the government if their focus on the health of Trump’s business interests is what is supposed to allow him to avoid conflicts.” He reiterated what virtually every ethics expert has said: “If he is serious about a separation of government and personal business, he needs to sell the business outside of his family and place the assets in a blind trust.”