WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and a Member of the Senate Finance Committee, along with 23 of his Senate colleagues, introduced a resolution Tuesday stating the sense of Congress that President-elect Trump should follow the precedent established by prior presidents and convert his assets to simple, conflict-free holdings, adopt blind trusts managed by an independent trustees, or take other equivalent measures in order to ensure compliance with the United States Constitution. Senator Cardin released the following statement Wednesday regarding President-Elect Trump’s Twitter response:
“I was encouraged to see the President-elect’s initial response but the devil is in the details, which Mr. Trump was short on in his tweets. The fact that his announcement will be done with his children at his side leaves many questions as to whether he and his lawyers understand the meaning of a blind trust, which is the arrangement that Mr. Trump and his lawyers had previously promised to adopt.
“It is important to point out that a bipartisan group of ethics lawyers, including President George H. W. Bush’s lawyer, Richard Painter, have noted that Mr. Trump’s announcement appears to relate to business operations, not ownership, and many, including President George W. Bush’s lawyer, C. Boyden Gray, have urged the President-elect to sell his business, rather than letting his children run it. A true blind trust, including ones established by past Presidents, is an arrangement where the official has no control over, will receive no communications about, and will have no knowledge of the identity of the specific assets held in the trust, and the trust’s manager operates independently of the owner. The arrangements previously described by Mr. Trump and his lawyers would not be independent and the idea that President-elect Trump’s children are or would be truly ‘independent managers’ is not credible, especially so long as those same children have leadership positions in the Trump presidential transition team. This is not a blind trust and this is not an arrangement that will ensure compliance with the Emoluments Clause of the United States Constitution.
“I remain troubled that President-elect Trump still believes he is ‘not mandated to do this under the law’, and my goal remains to avoid having the President of the United States in breach of the Constitution when he takes office on January 20. I will remain focused on this important issue and look forward to hearing Mr. Trump’s announcement on December 15.”