Bipartisan Group Raises Red Flags About Trump’s Conflicts of Interest

A coalition of watchdog groups and ethics experts, including Clinton critics, ask Trump to divest.

Charlie Neibergall/AP

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


A bipartisan coalition of Washington ethics watchdogs—including one of Hillary Clinton’s most vocal critics—is calling on President-elect Donald Trump to divest himself of his sprawling business interests.

“By combining your presidency with your family business enterprises, you will create ongoing conflict of interest and credibility problems for your presidency,” reads an open letter the group sent to Trump Friday. “Questions will regularly arise as to whether your domestic and foreign policy positions are being taken on behalf of the interests of the American people or the financial interests of the Trump family, which will necessarily diverge on numerous occasions from those of the nation as a whole.”

The letter was signed by 29 different individuals and groups. The list contains a who’s who of Washington watchdog groups. It also includes six former Republican elected officials and Richard Painter, who served as the top ethics lawyer in George W. Bush’s administration. But perhaps the most eye-popping name on the list is Peter Schweizer, the head of the Government Accountability Institute—a conservative group whose board has included Trump adviser Stephen Bannon. Schweizer is the author of Clinton Cash, a best-selling book that was the basis for much of the controversy over Clinton’s involvement with the Clinton Foundation. Schweizer was particularly critical of the foundation’s acceptance of large gifts from foreign donors who appeared to be seeking favors from the Clintons.

Even before he has taken office, Trump’s transition effort has already been dogged by conflict of interest accusations, including questions as to why his daughter has sat in on meetings with foreign leaders and his involvement with hotels in Argentina, Turkey, China, and Taiwan.

Trump has said he will hold a press conference next week in which he will explain how he he will separate himself from the daily “business operations” of the Trump organization. But this won’t be enough, the letter says.

Although congressional Republicans have appeared reluctant to take any steps to investigate Trump’s personal finances, the letter’s signers urge Trump to take the issue seriously.

“Republicans and Democrats called for similar strong measures regarding the Clinton Foundation if Hillary Clinton were elected president,” the letter says. “It is no less important for you to take the steps set forth in this letter with The Trump Organization now that you will be entering the Oval Office.”

The full letter can be read here.

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate