Donald Trump ‘Leaving’ Business to Avoid Conflict of Interest During Presidency

“Legal documents are being crafted which take me completely out of business operations,” the president-elect tweets

Last Updated: November 30, 2016 @ 11:09 AM

Donald Trump shared some good news for some of his biggest critics Wednesday, tweeting that he will be “leaving” his business before he takes over for President Obama in the White House come January.

As TheWrap previously reported, Trump has a number of potential conflicts of interest, including hotels around the world. His business holdings have been an issue of major concern for many Americans, especially the media, and initially the president-elect shrugged them off.

“Prior to the election it was well known that I have interests in properties all over the world. Only the crooked media makes this a big deal,” he tweeted last week.

While speaking to the New York Times for the first on-the-record conversation after his victory over Hillary Clinton earlier this month, Trump said, “The law’s totally on my side, the president can’t have a conflict of interest.”

The Office of Government Ethics has rules meant to prevent conflicts of interest within the executive branch, however the president and vice president are exempt. Still, previous presidents including George W. Bush and Bill Clinton have placed assets in a “blind trust” in an effort to prevent business deals and investments from influencing policy during their term in the Oval Office.

Trump, who will become the wealthiest president in American history when inaugurated next month, added in the New York Times interview, “In theory, I don’t have to do anything, but I would like to do something — I would like to try and formalize something.”

He previously said he would hand over all business management duties to his children, however people were quick to point out that arrangement would not eliminate the risk of Trump making presidential decisions to benefit the family’s financial interests.

More details of his arrangement will no doubt be unveiled on or before Dec. 15, but his tweets did not immediately ease concerns.

Richard Painter, chief White House ethics lawyer under President George W. Bush, told the Washington Post Wednesday that Trump only identified giving up business operations, “not ownership.”

“The problem is, we need to resolve the conflicts of interest that arise from his ownership. And we’re hearing nothing about how that’s getting resolved,” Painter said. “Even if he does not operate the businesses, you’re going to have lots of people working for the business running around the world trying to cut deals.”

“And it’s critical that none of those people discuss U.S. business in a way that could be interpreted, or misinterpreted, of offering quid pro quo … or soliciting a bribe on the part of the president,” Painter added.