Op-Ed: To Earn Trust,
Trump Needs a True Blind Trust
November 22, 2016
As the Trump team continues the process of putting together a functioning government, new concerns seem to emerge daily about what could become an unprecedented ethical nightmare in the White House. President-elect Trump needs to move quickly and take concrete steps if he wants turn around this perception and maintain the moral authority to “drain the swamp” – a promise that likely got him elected.
Millions of Americans who have been struggling financially blame their plight on a Washington elite that is fundamentally corrupt and self-serving. For many of these voters, Donald Trump is perceived is someone who can both clean up Washington, D.C., and, in the process, improve their lives. For them he represents hope – a hope that many Americans haven’t had for decades. Failing to reform Washington will be another in a long line of disappointments for these Americans.
Announcing that he will forgo the $400,000 presidential salary was a nice symbolic start. But saying he plans to cede control of the Trump Organization to his children is an empty gesture that will undermine the new president, and everything he professes to stand for. Donald Trump must sell the Trump Organization and all his other assets and put them in a genuine blind trust.
The president-elect obviously understands that the perception he would personally profit from holding office is real. As a result, he has promised to put his assets in a blind trust run by his children. The reality is having his children run an organization that consists of all the same assets he previously owned (and the new ones that will be acquired with his ascendant global brand) isn’t a blind anything.
Given his familiarity with his global empire, Trump will immediately grasp the implications of any legislation, trade deal, or statecraft on his net worth. As someone who has demonstrated a lifetime of measuring himself solely by that number, it would be impossible for Trump to separate his personal interests from the decisions he makes while governing.
The magnitude of the potential for self-dealing here can’t be overstated. Will a President Trump really be able to streamline the tax code, when doing so might require him to eliminate some of the tax breaks that he bragged about taking advantage of during the election? Will a President Trump really be able to conduct foreign policy that’s in the best interests of the United States, when the party on the other side of the table might be able to grant his family favorable treatment on a development deal? And, most importantly, will a President Trump be able to drain the swamp when he’s wading hip-deep in it?
As an example, Trump called for a five-year ban on lobbying for members of Congress. In doing so, he’s trying to prevent the... Continue Reading.