Tom Carper, U.S. Senator for Delaware

Dec 13 2016

After Trump Delays Announcement on Business Plans, Carper and Senate Democrats Call on President-elect to Divest Holdings

In new letter, 23 senators urge President-elect Trump to follow advice of Office of Government Ethics and allow independent party to control assets

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), top Democrat on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, along with 22 Democratic senators, sent a letter urging President-elect Donald J. Trump to follow the advice of the Office of Government Ethics (OGE), an independent, nonpartisan ethics agency, and divest his business holdings in order to resolve potential conflicts of interest and deal with constitutional requirements before he assumes office.

“As a businessman with interests in the United States and around the world, your holdings have the potential for serious conflicts between the national interest and your personal financial interests,” the lawmakers wrote.

They continued, “Whether the President of the United States makes decisions about potential trade agreements or sending troops into war, the American people need to know that the President is acting in their best interest. Divestiture of your businesses and the establishment of a blind trust controlled by an independent party would provide assurances that you will put the interests of the American people first and are fully committed to the success of your presidency.”

The letter was also signed by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Michael Bennet (D-Co.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Patrick Leahy (Vt.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Tom Udall (D-N.M), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

 

The text of the letter can be found below and in PDF form here.

December 13, 2016

President-Elect Donald J. Trump

Trump-Pence Transition Office

1717 Pennsylvania Ave NW

Washington, DC 20006

 

Dear President-Elect Trump:

We write today regarding the steps you should be taking to address ethical concerns related to potential conflicts of interest as you prepare to become the President of the United States. 

As a businessman with assets around the world, your holdings have the potential for serious conflicts between the national interest and your personal financial interests. We understand that the Office of Government Ethics, an independent, non-partisan ethics agency created in the wake of the scandals of Watergate, has recently advised you that the only way to resolve these conflicts of interest is through divestiture of your businesses.

In your public statements, you have referenced that the President is not subject to the restrictions of federal conflict of interest laws. However, we understand the Office of Government Ethics has advised presidents across administrations to conduct themselves in a manner consistent with federal conflict of interest laws and standards of conduct regulations.  The President also is subject to the Emoluments Clause of the United States Constitution, which will prohibit payments or gifts to your businesses by entities owned by foreign governments. 

To address any conflicts of interest and constitutional requirements, we urge you to follow the advice of the Office of Government Ethics and divest your business holdings. Consistent with the practices of past presidents since passage of the Ethics in Government Act of 1978, we also urge you to establish a qualified blind trust or an equivalent in which your assets are administered by an independent party and not controlled by members of your family.  Such actions are consistent with the steps called for in Senate Concurrent Resolution 56.

Whether the President of the United States makes decisions about potential trade agreements or sending troops into war, the American people need to know that their President is acting in their best interest. Divestiture of your businesses and the establishment of a qualified blind trust controlled by an independent party would provide assurances that you will put the interests of the American people first and are fully committed to the success of your presidency.

Sincerely,

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