The Boston Herald in an editorial of November 27th argues that President-elect Trump must put his assets into a blind trust:
If he doesn’t put his business interests into a blind trust, President-elect Trump could be endlessly flyspecked with criticism even if he disinfects every dime when it hits his checking account.
Trump says he will turn over his businesses to his three adult children. That doesn’t remove the possibility that the children could act on information from dad (perhaps without him knowing) to make profits or avoid losses.
But is it even possible? Ned Barnett in The American Thinker (November 22nd) says it’s not:
. . . it is all but impossible to imagine how Trump could divest his entire empire of 515 companies in any presidentially-meaningful length of time. That assumes there’s a market for a Trump “anything” without a real Trump attached to the deal. And, it ignores the fact that even if Trump does divest, his kids will still own most of the company, and they’re named Trump, too — and forcing them to divest for “the sins of the father” is legally impossible and morally questionable.
Charles Krauthammer on the Fox Special Report with Bret Baier (November 21st) said the same thing more succinctly:
I don’t think this is a complicated problem. I think this is an insoluble problem.
But if selling off all the assets, which after all are not just investments but active businesses, is impossible, and if putting the Trump children in charge would not insulate the father from charges of conflict of interest, what’s the solution?
There certainly isn’t an iron-clad one, but there is an option that would help insulate the Trump administration from charges of favoritism to his own business interests, and would help defuse such charges when they did arise:
Let’s create a blue-ribbon independent Panel or Commission that can evaluate and report on all complaints of Presidential actions or policies that could plausibly advantage Trump business interests over those of competitors, or over those of the nation as a whole.
This Commission could recommend remedial action, or not; it would report its findings to the Justice Department, as well as to the Congress, and to the American public. It would not have judicial authority, but it would have its own ‘bully pulpit’.
Establishing such a Commission would have the positive effects of:
– Defusing the inevitable fits of outrage, faux and justified, from Trump opponents, and keep them from tying up his Administration in constant accusations and bad press.
– Serving as a deterrent to unconsidered policies or actions: it would encourage the Trump administration to check with the Commission before taking actions that might raise howls of protest were they carried out. As with the White House counsel, the Commission could be enlisted to provide advice on the consequences of specific policies, and on how to manage the inevitable conflicts that will arise between the President’s business interests, and the interests of the American people.