News Article

Cardin to push resolution on Trump’s financial conflicts
November 22, 2016


By: Nahal Toosi

Sen. Ben Cardin, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, plans to introduce a resolution calling on President-elect Donald Trump to take the necessary financial steps to ensure that he is not violating any constitutional limits on a president’s conflicts of interest.

The move comes amid growing concerns that Trump’s many business investments could lead to improper entanglements and questionable decisions on foreign policy. According to media reports, since winning the Nov. 8 election, Trump has continued to meet with foreign business partners, while his new Washington hotel has solicited business from foreign diplomats.

The incoming Republican president “should convert his assets to simple, conflict-free holdings, adopt blind trusts, or take other equivalent measures, in order to ensure compliance with the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution,” states an announcement from Cardin’s office, which was shared first with POLITICO on Tuesday.

Cardin plans to introduce the resolution next week, although with a Republican-controlled Congress, it’s hard to say how far it will go. According to the announcement, the resolution will “note that in the absence of such actions by the President-elect before he assumes office or specific authorization by Congress, Congress will regard dealings by Trump-owned companies with any entity owned by a foreign government as potential violations of the Constitution.”

“This resolution is intended to prevent a crisis or any misunderstanding regarding the consistency of the President’s actions with the U.S. Constitution,” Cardin says in the announcement. “In the two months before President-elect Trump’s inauguration, he should provide the American people with clarity and certainty that he will in no way, shape, or form use the office of the President to advance his substantial personal fortune.”

On the House side, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Mo), ranking member on the Financial Services committee, along with other top Democrats on the committee, asked inspectors general for a handful of federal departments and agencies to closely monitor any problems that might arise from the president-elect’s interests.

“We ask that you take immediate and proactive steps to ensure that any new political appointees at your respective agencies are held to the highest possible ethical standards and that you commit to diligently and constantly monitoring the actions of such appointees and mitigating conflicts of interest when they inevitably arise,” Democrats wrote in a letter Tuesday.